Ep 10: This is gratitude

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Gratitude is a big part of a healthy, happy life. But gratitude is more than just feeling good about what you have.

Learn how you can use gratitude to help others, and help yourself in return.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 10: This is gratitude

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

When I was a kid my mom used to tell me that I should be grateful for what I have because so many others around the world were doing without.

No doubt someone important in your life may have said the exact same thing to you.

But gratitude is more than just being grateful that you have more than others.

It’s appreciation for what you’ve been given and you want to share with others out of that gratitude.

Gratitude is more than a feeling.

It’s a practice that takes your focus off of your own needs and places it squarely on what you can do for others.

It helps you appreciate the contributions that other people are making in your life. This goes a long way in building your own resilience to stress.

So, how do you practice gratitude?

Quite a few years ago Oprah Winfrey made the gratitude journal quite popular. Then again, Oprah makes everything quite popular.

Gratitude journals are a way to capture daily reminders of the goodness in our lives. They’re effective, and I do recommend them to my clients.

But the practice of gratitude really takes off when you go beyond capturing good things on paper. You can take specific actions to show your gratitude to others who have helped you.

  • Like writing a thank you note to a coworker who helped you solve a problem that came up right before you left on Friday.
  • Or sending an encouraging text to a friend who helped you through some really tough stuff. You never know when OTHERS need that little notification to pop up on a tough day.
  • Maybe you buy someone’s lunch just because you’re grateful you’ve always had enough food on your table most of your life.

Those are just a couple of ideas.

This kind of actionable gratitude has some science on its side.

In a recent study out of Berkeley, researchers studied three groups of 300 college students who were seeking counseling for depression and anxiety.

All the groups received counseling.

But one group, in addition to counseling, wrote one gratitude letter each week to another person. (Gratitude letters describe what someone did for you and how it affected your life.)

The group kept up this practice for three weeks.

The second group wrote about their negative thoughts, feelings and experiences.

The third group just received the counseling.

More than four weeks after the writing exercise ended, the first group reported the most improved mental health of all three groups.

Here’s the interesting thing: only 23% of the participants in this group actually sent the letter.

And this positive effect lasted an additional eight weeks after the study was over.

The writers felt less depressed and anxious long after the exercise was over. They also probably improved someone else’s life with their kind and grateful words.

Take a moment and come up with a few practical ways you can show your gratitude to others this week, big or small, it doesn’t matter.

It will make you feel better and help you not just be grateful, but create a gratitude mindset.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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