How to Cultivate Positivity with Gratitude
August can be a stressful time of year. For some, it means back to school, back to work, back to overwhelming workloads and minimal social life. To others, it may mean the year is more than half way over and what have I been doing this whole time? Although it can be really easy to slip into a cycle of negativity during this time of year, there are ways you can create happiness and avoid the post-midyear slump. Here are three simple steps to cultivating positivity with gratitude.
1. Be consistent
Gratitude can only bring you as much happiness as you allow it. Be consistent with journaling by writing something down every day, preferably at the same time of day. Researchers have found that journaling at night increases a sense of calmness and reduces stress before bed. However, if you are more reflective in the morning than the afternoon, then set aside 5 minutes each morning to dedicate to journaling. Gratitude shouldn’t feel like a chore or another item on your to-do list. Choose to cultivate more happiness by recognizing gratitude as an everyday activity, such as brushing your teeth.
2. Be specific
Gratitude journals are not daily to-do lists, nor are they a place for listing everything you have ever been “thankful” for in your life. It may be difficult to avoid general statements of appreciation when you first start journaling. One way to prevent this is by re-reading what you have already written. Try to avoid saying the same thing over and over by making your gratitudes more specific. For example, rather than saying “I’m thankful for my mom", you could say, “I love that I can always count on my mom to listen when I call her”. While being “thankful for mom” is certainly something to be grateful for, try to be more specific and focus on what exactly is it that you are appreciating in that moment. Being thoughtful and specific about your gratitudes will allow you to truly appreciate small moments in your life and increase your positivity.
3. Turn negatives into positives
We can increase positivity and happiness in our lives by reprogramming the way we think about negative situations. Although as simple as this sounds, this is one of the most difficult processes for people who have been stuck in a cycle of negativity for too long. Rather than dwelling on the things that didn’t work out, think about ways to reframe them to be something positive. For example, if a job interview didn’t go as well as you hoped, be grateful for the time you now have to focus on what you want in your career and what skills you need to get there. You may write down that you are thankful for getting the experience of a difficult job interview- now you will be even more prepared for the next. By transforming negative thoughts into positives, we train our minds to “look on the bright side”, which in return, leads to more motivation, productivity, and positivity. Turning negatives into positives is something that will take time to get used to, especially if you are someone who is easily susceptible to negative thinking. The key to this step is to focus on being realistic and optimistic about everyday life situations.
Gratitude journaling may not feel natural at first, but with proper consistency, it will eventually become part of your everyday life. Don’t give up. Some experts say it takes twenty-one days to start a habit. Think of gratitude as a prescription from your doctor. In order for you to get better, you need to take your daily dose. If you miss a dose, you risk the chance of not healing, or even worse, becoming more sick than you already are. Focus on the things in your life that truly make you thankful. Appreciate big and little things. Transform your mind to recognize negativity as something to be grateful for.
Commit yourself to a month of gratitude and then decide how you feel. What do you have to lose?