As my recent Visualize Your Life group came to an end we closed with a gratitude ritual. Each person took cards and wrote for each of the others a message of thanks. Then we went around to each person, read aloud what we’d written to them, and gave them the cards. It made us all feel great to give and receive these honest messages of gratitude.
We’re reminded by Thanksgiving to be grateful for all that is positive in our lives.
Well-being, happiness and other positive emotions can help reduce the stress and difficulty we experience in life and allow us to prepare for and cope successfully in times when things aren’t going well. We can increase well-being and positive emotion by tuning into the positives in our lives. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal, an idea found in Martin Seligman’s Flourish. All it takes is writing down three things every day that I’m grateful for. That trains me to notice the positive things in my life. Give it a try and see what you think.
Gratitude is important, but perhaps surprisingly, negative feelings, inner conflicts or disagreements with others can contribute to learning and growth. A total absence of negative feeling may be harmful to overall functioning. In general we’re doing well when we experience about 3 positive emotions for every negative one. Writing honestly and openly about challenges, difficulties and negative emotion can help you make sense of them and learn from them. Try giving yourself 10-20 minutes to write about difficult experiences or feelings and see if you find it helpful.