It can be so easy to find things to complain about, to want more, to be unhappy or unsatisfied with life and how things are going. Our brains are wired to find the negative first as a way of surviving. This is great if you are in danger or if you need to take action to save yourself. It’s not so great if you want to experience emotions that help you feel more connected, happy, joyful, calm, and loved.
What is gratitude anyways? Gratitude is an emotion and an attitude. Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful and in appreciation. You might be grateful for tangible things you have like friends, family, a phone, clothes you like, the sport you play, the ability to sing, etc. You may be grateful for intangible things like love, peace, memories, quiet moments, laughter etc.
Gratitude can be a game changer for your mental health. Researchers have found that a daily gratitude practice can increase mood, optimism, and overall pleasant feelings (like happiness).
As a teen, practicing gratitude has a lot of benefits. Here are just a few:
Here are 4 gratitude practices you can try:
Start or end your day by writing down 3 things you are grateful for. You can start with more general things but over time try and get more specific about the things you appreciate. For example, I might write “friends” in the beginning. When I'm trying to get more specific, I may say something like “my friends because I love how much they make me laugh”.
Getting more specific about why you are thankful makes the appreciation feel more connected to you personally; it becomes more meaningful.
In a gratitude circle each person gets the opportunity to share 1 general thing they are grateful for and 1 specific thing that they are grateful for today. It’s a great way to feel connected to others and grow gratitude in your social circles.
You can do this with a group of friends or with your family. Decide on a time where you will practice it. Some families choose at the dinner table or friends may choose to do this in a group chat.
Set up a jar where every day you write something you are grateful for and drop it in. It can be a centrally located jar in your house where everyone can contribute or it can just be for personal use. At the end of the week or at the end of the month read all of the things that you have felt grateful for. Start to fill your jar all over again - and you can keep the previous ones too and watch your jar fill with gratitude.
You can search on-line and find gratitude meditation scripts or videos. Here are a few you could try:
You can also create your own. Start by writing down 10-15 phrases that begin with “I am grateful for….” or “I am thankful….” and then record yourself saying them in a calm voice and playing them back for yourself as you are sitting comfortably, lying down, or walking outside in nature.
What are some other ways you are practicing gratitude during your day?
Share this with someone who you are grateful for.
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- Chantal Côté, R.Psych, Pyramid Psychology - helping older children, teens, and young adults learn how to build bulletproof mindsets.
Chantal Côté is a Registered Psychologist in the province of Alberta and the owner of Pyramid Psychology. Pyramid Psychology mission is to help teen girls build Bulletproof Mindsets. Youth are full of greatness and uniqueness and it is a gift to have them share this with the world. Pyramid Psychology supports teens (and parents) that are struggling with anxious and overwhelmed thoughts and feelings. Meeting in person in Southeast Calgary, on-line for those living anywhere in Alberta, and outdoors for walk and talk sessions, Chantal uses a trauma informed lens and invites people to try thought based, mindfulness, and expressive practices to manage and weather the storms of life.