I often talk about the benefits of gratitude - because regular practice not only takes advantage of the brain's neuroplasticity and can help even the most pessimistically minded being to see things more positively, but it also helps us appreciate what we have, here and now in the present...removing envy or any sense of desperation or even resentment of "having not".
However, those benefits, and the positive feelings they generate can be amplified by a very simple practice: SHARING IT WITH OTHERS!
Now, a caveat, I don't mean "boasting" - I don't mean the social media narrative of "This AMAZING thing happened to me today - hashtag"blessed"" because there the intention is all wrong. In that example the post is attention seeking, it's showing off, it's fishing for approval and validation. (And if you don't believe me, check your own intentions before you post something like that next time...I share far less than I used to publicly, but will often tell close friends privately of the nice things going on...and hope they do the same for me!)
Three types of positive sharing:
This is a lovely one, because when my close friends share their good news privately (or at least privately first) not only do I get a sense of feeling valued enough with that excitement, but I have the benefit of feeling thrilled for them as well. Perhaps in some ways it could be a bit, I love you, and others love you so my choice must be valid...but I like to think it's much more - your happiness makes me happy too!
THEN on top of that, you can contribute further to their happiness through your response, and the rest of gratitude's benefits kick in, and generally, I have a positive mindset all day!
Try this: When you are proud of yourself, rather than shouting on social media, select people you want to share personal good news with and tell them - to me, the depth of response I experience far outweighs the "likes" - from people who probably didn't even read the post properly!!
I am a big fan of this one - and that is to thank people for being in your life. I currently subscribe to a lovely gratitude app which prepares a "thank you" every day and I'm prompted to send it to someone I think it fits best. Not only does this makes someone smile but brings the additional positivity of:
- Recognising the positive...and thus make it easier for that person to know what to repeat in future
- Recognising the person - and reminding them that they are seen and valued - at least by us...that their actions had an impact...this is one of the most powerful things we can do.
- Gifting positivity - think about it, we're quick to complain, but how fast do we thank? While I make extra effort to recognise the positive in others, I also have a rule that if I write a complaint I must also write a compliment!
- Helping them build up a "buffer" to the effects of stress...your act will have contributed to their positive energy, and while we can't "make" people feel a certain way, it is likely to trigger a sense of happiness, and the more of that feeling we experience, the easier we find it to have the energy to ride the roller coaster of 21 century living.
Try this: Tell someone how grateful you are that they are in your life. This may be a friend, it may be an old teacher or mentor...and tell them what an impact they had/have.
Hugely important, but not often practiced. Giving someone our time...not "our time that is available while we "sort something out on our phone", or "also think about work", or "tell them only about our day"...but time to hear them, and acknowledge them, and in turn show respect for the time they have also given to you.
Try this: A quick tip for improving quality time is if you ask anyone a question today, please give their answer your undivided attention. Maybe even ask them more, really listen to them and hear them...you'll be surprised at how greatly it can deepen your relationship. Too often we ask people to "concentrate", and yet we are masters of distraction ourselves!
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt