One way to consistently prevent loss of perspective throughout the year is to routinely practice maintaining an “attitude of gratitude.” Here are some tips and suggestions for developing this healthy psychological mindset:
Stay engaged with relationships in your life
From an evolutionary perspective, we are inherently and ultimately social creatures. Those whom we love in our lives (friends, family members, romantic partners) provide us with a sense of community, connection, validation, and esteem.
It is emotionally therapeutic to remain engaged in such relationships to continually reinforce our sense of connectedness and belonging to something larger than ourselves.
Keep a gratitude journal
In order to recall and reinforce positive memories more than negative ones, some people find it useful to keep a journal or diary in which they document the things or people in life for which they are grateful for. This document is sometimes referred to as a gratitude journal.
You can write as little or as much as you like: one gratitude item per day, or ten per week or even more. The ultimate goal is that the more you write and remember the reasons you have to be thankful in life, the more easily and quickly these memories will come naturally to mind.
Practice mindful meditation and thankfulness mantras
If writing and keeping journals is not a preferred pastime of yours, alternatively you can cultivate gratitude by meditating upon the topic, perhaps by incorporating it into your pre-existing yoga or meditation rituals.
Self-soothing mantras (repeated self-statements) such as “I have many things to be grateful for in this life” or “In spite of my difficulties, life is still good and there are multiple reasons for me to be thankful” are helpful reminders. The more we rewire our brains to default to positive thoughts of gratitude, the more this way of thinking will become autopilot.
In the end, an “attitude of gratitude” might take a little effort to achieve but it is not by any means impossible. And the more we practice this thinking style, the easier and quicker it is when it becomes an ingrained, automatic habit. You’ll thank yourself for this mindset, and this thankfulness will ripple out into all aspects of your life.
Dr. Michael Eason is a psychologist and US licensed therapist practising at MindnLife in Central, Hong Kong.