Living in a well-developed country can have us taking things for granted as if it’s second nature. On this side of the world, we have unlimited access to almost anything you could possibly think of. We have so many schools, public libraries, retail stores, food banks, grocery stores, food delivery, technology, and so much more that we interpret as typical things expected to survive. When you think about it, most of us probably don’t actually know what it is to survive. We’re given an abundance of luxury since the day we’re born that we simply don’t know how to live otherwise.
In grade school, we’re taught the basic elements of survival: a roof over your head, food and water, and fire. I’d assume if you’re able to even read this article, you have all these listed elements checked off. That alone is a luxury.
So that being said, I think it’s really important to realize how fortunate you are to be living the life you have. With the crazy amounts of stress that people deal with daily, they lose touch with reality. We often don’t take the time to have a moment with ourselves to reflect. This could mean reflecting on your friendships and relationships, work-life, academics, but more importantly, your emotions and self-awareness.
When I say it’s important to practice gratitude, I mean to genuinely sit down with yourself and take part in some deep reflection in complete solitude. It’s definitely way easier said than done, but lucky for you I have some prompts to help you along! Before I list those off, we should cover why practicing gratitude is so important anyway.
Research done by UC Davis psychologist Dr. Robert Emmons shows that regularly practicing gratitude can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction. Further, it most definitely plays a role in the energies you attract! Whether you believe in the law of attraction or not, it’s worth a shot – you have nothing to lose. I’m sure you’ve heard about how great meditation is for your soul; think of practicing gratitude as having the same effect!
People struggle with practicing their gratitude because it requires commitment and consistency to experience the benefits from it. It’s not an overnight process, but it’s definitely a feel-good moment each time you do it. It takes practice to tune out the negativity and stress that you’ve experienced throughout the day to be able to sit down and dedicate your energy to yourself.
The best way to start is to start small! It can be overwhelming to dig deep and figure out the biggest things you’ve overcome. Something as little as physically listing off the important people in your life can help you realize that you’re not completely alone and that you do have support. There’s something about writing things out onto paper that make us genuinely understand the material – whether that’s about academics or practicing gratitude!
Here are a few prompts that can get you started! Eventually, you may be so into it that maybe meditation might be the next step for you – and that is amazing!
Write about a happy memory.
What is something you’re looking forward to this week?
What is something that made you feel productive today?
Write about a tradition that you and/or your family maintain.
Look around you and write down whatever you see that you’re grateful for.
What is your favourite thing about your personality?
Find a picture that makes you smile on the inside. Why does it have this effect on you?
If you were able to, what is one thing you would change about the world, and why?
How did you help someone this week? How did someone help you?
Write about something or someone that makes you feel safe. (Even if it’s yourself!)
I hope that by now I’ve convinced you to pick up a pen and start writing. You genuinely have nothing to lose by giving these journaling prompts a shot, so just try it out! Your mental health will thank you.