Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your own healthcare provider.
Some info below taken from:
It seems to me that lately, we’ve been hit a bit hard on the Hill. Individuals, families and our community together are coping with losses public and private, some associated with the fire, others with untimely deaths, and more. Our task is to manage all this emotionally, psychologically. It can be a challenge to find a way through.
It may well sound insensitive or trite in the face of these losses to suggest that simple gratitude can help us find that way. However, research shows that gratitude promotes health and healing. (See links above for the health effects associated with gratitude).
Gratitude is the active affirmation of goodness.
Practicing gratitude needs our commitment to spend time at it, actively acknowledging daily (or nightly before we go to sleep) what we are grateful for. And we need to keep at it. (See more suggestions below).
Why do we need to actively commit to practicing gratitude?
There’s an odd fact about how our brains are designed. Tricky little neurons. Our brains are naturally wired to hold onto negative experiences much more than positive ones, even to the point of ruminating — the enemy of gratitude and peace of mind. We are ruminating when we get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts about some past hurt; a cycle which increases our stress in the moment and brings us to no helpful resolution to the problem.
We just keep going round and round, like the snake eating its own tail — we end up right where we began and off we go again on another round. We always feel worse, numbed, bummed out or exhausted after a spell of rumination. And that’s how it differs from being grateful. (For tips on overcoming ruminating, see last link above).
How to practice gratitude:
Keep a Gratitude Journal. Write down those things on a daily or weekly basis you are grateful for. Nice to do just before bed.
Write a Gratitude Letter expressing thanks and deliver it.
Savor the good in your life. Reminisce often about the good. Use all your senses to enhance these memories.
Psychologist Rick Hanson suggests practice guidelines. First, think about a good experience you are grateful for. Next, stay in the memory as long as possible. (This time it’s OK to go over and over it).
Importantly, use all your senses to enhance that memory. Then, bring your attention to what is satisfying, rewarding and enjoyable about that experience. (This strengthens brain pathways that hardwire the benefits of gratitude).
Finally, gradually link the positive with the negative memory. If the positive has been strengthened through the previous steps, it can gradually replace the negative. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the negative, stop for a while and restart, leaving out the last step until you are adept at strengthening your positive memories.
Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in psychology.