What is gratitude?

We have all heard of gratitude. We may have even been told to “be more grateful” at times, like when you receive a gift that wasn’t what you wanted or when your home cooked meal didn’t go as planned. But what would happen if we start incorporating gratitude in every part of our lives?

It may seem weird, but finding gratitude in the presence of defeat can actually be beneficial for your mental health. Of course, it is not easy to shift into a grateful mindset immediately, especially for those struggling with mental health. Incorporating gratitude is an exercise. With time, however, research has shown “that gratitude can help us cope with traumatic events, regulate our negative emotions, and improve our well-being.” 

In practice, gratitude is not just being thankful for life’s successes and accomplishments. It’s also noticing the small things that bring you joy. It’s adapting to the glass half full mentality.  When you focus on the joy of the smaller aspects of life, you can bring yourself more happiness in the long run.

Gratitude and youth

Adolescents are already vulnerable to comparison and insecurities. They have a malleable mindset toward their environment. Practice gratitude methods with youth to help shape them into strong and positive adults, which will ultimately guide them through hardship in the future. Below are a few ways that you can start incorporating gratitude with your youth!

Ways to practice gratitude:

  • Go for a mindfulness walk

  • Often when we feel overwhelmed, a short term fix is to step outside of your physical environment. Go on a walk with your youth, near or far, and point out five things in your environment that spark joy.

  • Draw or write a list of things you are grateful for

  • Sit down with and ask your youth to write or draw all of the things that they are thankful for. This can even become a fun art project!

  • Practice affirmations

  • Affirmations are a great way to shift your mindset on the daily. “Affirmations are statements that we say to ourselves that can shift our minds in ways that can make us feel better about ourselves and our lives,” as defined by Psychology Today. Here is a list of 101 positive affirmations that you can say with your youth!

  • Give compliments

  • Compliments are a great way to show your peers that you appreciate their effort. Encouraging youth to express their admiration for others will not only spread positivity but can also help them to become more mindful through noticing the great qualities of others. Linked is a list of what are called “non-physical compliments” that you can use when you think that someone is doing a good job.

  • Volunteer

  • One of the best ways to remind yourself of what you have is to volunteer. Taking youth to volunteer can help instill a love for service at an early age and will help reassure them of what they have to be grateful for in life.  

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