What are you Thanksgiving for?
We are living in a time when advice and tips on how to manage weight is anything but scarce. In fact, health and wellness recommendations can be at your fingertips in nanoseconds with the click of a button or two. Often times, these suggestions revolve around diet and exercise. One facet we bet you haven’t yet stumbled across is the importance of having an attitude of gratitude. While we can’t negate the significance of good nutrition and an active lifestyle, developing a positive disposition toward various encounters may enhance our ability to implement lifestyle changes long-term.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and improved well-being. Having an attitude of gratitude helps people relish good experiences, better handle adversity, and build stronger relationships. All of these things, but specifically being better equipped to reframe difficulties and to cultivate stronger relationships are useful tools to maintaining weight.
The following are five ideas on how to cultivate gratitude.
1. Write a thank-you. Did you know that thanking someone else can increase your own happiness? You can make yourself happier and strengthen relationships by writing a thank-you letter expressing your appreciation of that person’s influence on your life. (Tip: If you’re short on time- sending an email is cool, too.) Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
2. Mental Thank You. Not much of a writer? No problem. It may help just to think about someone who has done something helpful for you, and mentally thank them.
3. Keep a gratitude journal. Get in the habit of writing down or sharing thoughts about the things you are thankful for. If it helps, keep a running note of these things on your cell phone. Keep in mind things you often forget day-to-day: the satisfaction you get from a deep inhale, your ability to go for a 5 minute walk, the safety and security your job gives you, the constant support you feel from loved ones. Other list items could be things that don’t happen every day or something as simple as the friendly conversation initiated by the cashier at the coffee shop.
4. Reframe. Pick one past difficulty or a self-labeled “failure.” Write about the experience- noting exactly what happened. Now, write down 2-3 positive learning experiences that came from this experience. For example, maybe you went way off plan one day and felt terrible about it. In this example, you would write down what happened and then note: “1. I learned that tailgating is a challenging environment for me. 2. I learned that I needed to be assertive and ask for more social support from my friends.” Finally, write why you appreciate those learning experiences. An example of this could be: “Even though it sucked feeling disappointed in myself, I am thankful that I learned that I needed to create a plan for tailgates and to ask for social support in order to help me improve my health for the long haul. I know that with this knowledge I am more capable of making lifestyle changes work.”
5. Count the good. Select a small window of time each week to sit down and write about good things in your life — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. While it may seem inconvenient and unrealistic to set time aside to be grateful, view this time as an opportunity to slow life down and reflect on how you can appreciate life more. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you. Once you’ve got that down, think about what (if any) of these things relate to your health goals and how.