Tools to help you
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The Habit of Gratitude

By Jason Collins

Did you know that just the habit of expressing thanks throughout your day can change your brain’s neural pathways from seeing the negative all the time to noticing the positive all around you? It’s true. We can train our brains to see the things we want to notice. 

For example, my family was on a road trip and we played a game where we tried to find license plates from all 50 states. My daughter kept a checklist to see how many we could find. And for that entire trip, even when we stopped playing the game, it felt like all I could see were license plates from other states all around me. I noticed them everywhere!

Once when I was looking to buy a new car, I had settled on a couple of styles and models I was interested in. And for weeks, all I could see on the road were those models. They were everywhere. But now that I’ve bought a car and I’m not looking anymore, I couldn’t care less what people are driving. I never see them now.

See, we train our brains what to notice. And if we train our brains toward gratitude, we will begin to see more and more things to be thankful for. Because gratitude is not a feeling. It’s an action. I look for it, I notice it, and then I express it. And another thing: We need gratitude. Because it changes our perspective on our lives. It focuses us on the positive. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t notice the negative or we’re oblivious to when things are wrong or bad. It just means that I don’t walk around allowing the negative to color over everything else. I have so many reasons to be grateful and so do you. So here are some steps we can take to begin to make gratitude a habit in our lives…

#1 – Start writing down everything you can be grateful for. And it’s important to write it out where you can see it and look back on it. And don’t do it all at once. Just start a journal or a list and commit to only adding 3 to 5 things every day. Decide in the morning, I’m going to find 3 things I’m grateful for today. Be specific. And when you find them, write them down. Then do it again tomorrow. And after about 2 or 3 months, just go back and read your list. You’ll be amazed at how much is there. And you’ll be amazed at how you’ve trained yourself to be on the lookout for good things instead of only seeing the bad.

#2 – Set an alarm on your phone and review the hour. This is helpful for many people to stay focused throughout their day. Have your phone alert you every hour or so and just take a minute to look back and remember all the good things you notice. Even if it’s just remembering that you’re alive! That’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it? And just say thanks for whatever that hour has brought you. Maybe it’s a good meal, a conversation, a task you completed, a memory you recalled. And again, this will train your brain to dwell on the positive instead of only anxious thoughts.

#3 – Imagine going without. As you experience moments, things, and people, spend a few minutes just imagining in your mind what it would be like to go without that person or that thing. Imagine life without my car. Most people in the world don’t get to drive. Imagine not having your home or apartment. Imagine life without coffee. Without your favorite outfit. Without the people you do life with. And then just use those thoughts to move you to express gratitude. And again, this is a habit that trains your brain to notice. It keeps you looking for the positive instead of the negative.

Gratitude can be a powerful thing. But, it takes time and practice to turn it into a life habit. Be patient and practice compassion for yourself and just keep being consistent with these steps. If you stick with it for just a few minutes every day, within about 6 to 8 weeks you’ll probably start noticing some changes in your outlook and your mood.

At The Pursuit, a group of experienced therapists have come together to offer best in class counseling services. We prioritize clinical theory, non-judgmental approaches, and effective interventions, treatment plans, and coping skills.

We have therapists who specialize in different areas and we strive to find the best match for your unique needs. Our services cater to individuals, families, and organizations, including adolescents in high school. Our aim is to connect you with the specialist who can best address your concerns.

 Our specialized  counseling services aim to address the underlying emotional wounds that contribute to behaviors. We offer evidence-based  counseling that is effective with working many presenting problems. We provide a holistic approach to recovery, focusing on healing the past to create a healthier future. 

Are you ready to take the first step on your Pursuit towards a happier, healthier you? We invite you to book your free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled therapists. Don’t wait; it’s time to invest in your well-being. Simply  Book Now to start your Pursuit towards personal growth and positive change today.

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