This time of year in the UK is tricky. It’s dark. It’s damp. Having a sunny outlook on things is generally regarded to be a superb achievement. Meanwhile, the US is totally showing us up.
This time of year in the United States seems AWESOME. It might still be dark and damp in some parts, but right about now people are gearing up for Thanksgiving. Much of what I know about this particular holiday comes from sitcoms.
Aside from hilarious moments such as Monica’s turkey shimmy, I gather that our friends Stateside are about to eat ton of food, enjoy some Black Friday bargains and share what they’re thankful for.
That last bit is key to this blog. As I write this, I haven’t had the best of days. It’s like, ridiculously windy outside (we can’t stop talking about it) and winter seems to be stretching out in front of me. The sunshine of summer is long gone.
So expressing gratitude doesn’t always come very easy – particularly when you’re going through a rough patch. And anyway, why should you bother?
It’ll lift your mood like, right now
This one’s not rocket science. By simply taking note of things that you feel grateful for – however small – you’ll very likely feel a bit less down. Maybe, on reflection, your day wasn’t that bad.
As someone who right now is craving a glass of wine, a fluffy duvet and Lilo and Stitch to undo the effects of a bad day, I may be coming across a little hypocritical.
I hereby demonstrate three things I’m grateful for today:
1) The traffic was light, so we got home from work faster than usual
2) My boyfriend has just put our laundry on
3) Hazelnut lattes exist and I had one at lunch today.
They’re simple, but they do make me feel more inclined to feel pleased about the small, positive aspects of my day, than the more negative thoughts I’d typically concern myself with. Perhaps I might survive the remainder of this week, after all.
Make someone else feel good
Okay, we all know it feels nice to be thanked for something we’ve done – whether it’s just a bit of our time or a bigger gesture. When someone expresses gratitude towards us, it tends to give us happy, fuzzy feelings.
So if you’re feeling gratitude for a person, or a gesture they made, let them know.
I know I’m beginning to sound like an annoying self-help coach telling you what you already know, but all too often we forget to take the time to do these super simple things.
Case in point, in my list of things I was grateful for, my boyfriend dealing with the laundry was one of them. After I wrote that, I stopped typing and this happened:
It’s 6.21pm. Viki is slouched on an air bed in her pyjamas (yes, already), concentrating on what she just wrote. She pauses and looks at her boyfriend, sat across from her on the stairs. He is staring intently at his phone.
Me: Thanks for putting our laundry on, by the way.
(Boyfriend looks up and smiles)
Boyfriend: That’s okay, lady!
(Viki smiles too)
It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, work, out shopping, whatever. It takes no time at all to offer your thanks, and everyone involves feels all nice about it afterwards. What’s not to like?
As Queen Pessimist of the Anxious Kingdom, I’m extremely adept at obsessing over the negative things in life. Still, in particularly bad stretches of low mood I keep a little notepad beside my bed and note down three things I’m grateful for.
After a short time, I find my outlook shifts to be more rational and positive. I don’t think I’ll ever be referring to myself as an optimist, but it’s quite amazing how such small actions can have positive influences on your wellbeing.
A study by Jeffery Froh – a shit-hot gratitude researcher – indicated that the effects of noting down gratitude didn’t just begin and end with the recording itself, but were felt as far as five months down the line.
Almost half a year on, you could still be feeling fuzzy af.
Aren’t gratitude journals a bit wanky, though?
I’m not saying you have to go out and buy a rose gold and marble-patterned happiness journal. A simple notepad close to hand can help you regularly practise gratitude.
If that all sounds like a bit too much hard work (let’s be real, sometimes these things are), then there’s always the Bliss app, which will gently nudge you to tap out a little gratitude exercise (or others, if you feel so inclined) on your phone.
Ooh, and one last thing – thank you very much for reading. Several hours a week go into this blog, so it always makes me feel very grateful when people visit, leave comments or mention it to me in actual real life.
You’re all lovely. 💖