Cultivating gratitude

Appreciate what you have right now to achieve happiness and build resilience.

Have you ever thought about what it takes to be happy? More money, more stuff? Actually, people who take time to appreciate what they have right now are happier than those who don’t!

Research shows only about 10 percent of your happiness depends on your situation. In other words, YOU are responsible for your own level of happiness! One of the keys to happiness is your resilience and ability to successfully manage stress.

The good news is resilience can be learned. The more you practice stress management and resilience skills, the happier you can become. Change to Chill includes many techniques and skills to help you manage stress (deep breathing, meditation, better sleep and more).

Gratitude

A great tool to help build up the “resilience muscle” is gratitude. Think about it – how often do you take the small things like a beautiful sky, amazing sunset and family or friends for granted? Research shows expressing gratitude truly makes people happier, especially if you do it often and in-person.

So how can you build your “resilience muscle”? Give the following activities a try!

Gratitude Worksheet

Work through the Gratitude Worksheet. At the end of the worksheet, make sure to intentionally set aside time to write a thank you letter to someone you are grateful for!

Gratitude Meditation 

Get comfortable, take a deep breath and follow the meditation.

 

So how can you practice gratitude every day? Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Live in the present. Notice what is today instead of focusing on yesterday or tomorrow’s worries.
  • Start your day with gratitude. Practice giving thanks before you go on with the day’s activities, and notice new opportunities to be grateful for throughout the day.
  • Start your own gratitude journal. Write down the things you are grateful for every day, then look back on what you’ve written at the end of the month or when you struggle to notice anything good.

Practice being content. Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Three Good Things

Another great way to help build up the “resilience muscle” is a practice called Three Good Things.

Three Good Things is an evidence-based tool that refocuses your mind on the positive, instead of the negative.

In a given day, how often do you take note of the positive things? All of us can be very quick to notice the negative in our everyday lives and often tend to not notice good and positive things!

But don’t feel too bad about this habit just yet! You are actually programmed to remember the negative, simply to remind you of danger and prevent bad things from happening. This comes from the time when danger was everywhere for your ancestors. Positive things are often not “genetically” important to us, so we tend to forget them quickly. Because of this, focusing your attention on the positive is a skill that takes practice – that’s where Three Good Things steps in.

Three Good Things Activity

Make a habit of thinking about three good things at the same time each day (for example, you can do this as you get ready for bed, or while you wait for the bus after school). Ask yourself “What are three things that went well today, and what was my role in making them happen?” For best results, write your thoughts down, using the Three Good Things Worksheet. Commit to making this a practice for at least two weeks!

Having trouble thinking of anything positive or good? Remember positive things can be big or small! A smile, a hug, holding the door for someone, sunshine, blue sky, warm weather, cozy nights, laughter, giving compliments – noticing or doing any of these things can help you to be more resilient and able to handle what life throws your way. Noticing and being grateful for the big and the small is a way you can find happiness each day.

 

Learn more about things you can do to build gratitude, resilience and happiness at the Bounce Back Project.