Building Resilience With Gratitude

“When we practice gratitude as a daily habit,

we train our minds and emotions to thrive in adversity.

We begin to see the positive in difficult situations.”

                                                                                                -Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Wasn’t it a beautiful weekend?  I think our autumn colors are hitting their peak.  It’s days like these when I take a moment and count my blessings.  Could things be better?  Absolutely, but they could also be much worse, so on days like this, let’s be grateful.

Difficult situations are an inevitable part of the human experience, and Lord knows we have experienced them over the past few months.  Tough times can leave us overwhelmed, lost and even depressed.  Learning to cope by developing our resiliency skills is a valuable life skill, and gratitude may be one of the best ways to prepare ourselves for the eventual storms that will come into our life.

Experts tell us that there are two defining characteristics of gratitude:

  1. Recognizing and appreciating the positive elements that currently exist in our life.
  2. Recognition that the source of these positive elements is external from oneself.

Research conducted in 2018 at Georgia Southern University took the study of gratitude even further by demonstrating that embracing it helps us build resilience.  How?  

  1. Positive emotions like gratefulness help us to widen our mental openness and creativity. Our minds actually work better when we are grateful — allowing us to be more creative, more optimistic and more capable in our endeavors.
  2. A grateful mindset is also more likely to encourage help-seeking behavior.  Those with this mindset are more likely to seek support, utilize resources available to them and approach problems directly with a positive outlook.  Because of their effective use of coping skills, they are less stressed when problems arise.

Practicing gratitude does not have to be elaborate or time consuming, but incorporating it into your daily activities will let it become a habit that enhances resilience.

  1. Practice Mindful Gratitude – Take no more than two minutes each day to intentionally focus on that for which you are grateful.
  2. Incorporate Daily Gratitude Conversations Into Your Day – When talking with colleagues, family and friends ask questions that lead to a positive or grateful perspective.  For example, start a discussion by sharing something that has already happened today for which you are grateful, and then ask your conversation partner to do likewise.
  3. Maintain a Gratitude Journal – Writing lets us transform abstract thoughts into concrete ideas. Each day take a moment to reflect and identify three things that happened for which you are grateful.
  4. Give Back – We often spend too much time looking internally and evaluating ourselves. Doing something positive for others is a really good way to help us look beyond ourselves and our own personal circumstances.  Make a difference in others’ lives through thoughtful and generous acts like actively participating in fundraising opportunities, volunteering or simply helping a neighbor with a task.

While additional research is needed, there is ample evidence that gratitude can enhance our psychological and physical well-being.  Individuals with healthy minds and healthy bodies are more likely to have the resilience needed to help them bounce back and move forward in tough times.  Additionally those with gratitude tend to be happier, more confident, more resilient and equipped to make better lasting decisions.  Sounds like a recipe for success!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I’m grateful and feeling better already!  😊

Embrace the Challenge