“Just try and be positive!”
As college students, we sometimes hear this on a daily basis or during any time period when the overwhelming noise of college life seems to conquer the rest of our existence. While individuals who advise their peers to “Push through the turmoil” and “Maintain a positive attitude,” often have good intentions, instructing someone to simply be positive can have completely counteractive results. This is because as human beings, we desire tangible results through constructive feedback, accountability and measurable progress.
When we become consumed with our various commitments of schoolwork, jobs, sports and other extracurricular activities, we can feel so submerged that what once brought us joy can ultimately become a source of stress. Whatever you are feeling, positivity alone may not be the most productive approach to resetting your mind. Instead, a different and more unexplored method of grounding oneself may be more beneficial: the practice of gratitude.
In an article published by Harvard Medical School which illustrated the proven benefits of practicing gratitude, scientific research has discovered “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Ultimately, the practice of gratitude has numerous mental and physical benefits that can lead to recognizable results within many aspects of one’s life.
There are multiple ways of which you can apply practices of gratitude within your day-to-day routine. Implementing these measures does not have to consume a large portion of time, after all, you already have enough on your plate. To name a few, some of these exercises include:
Writing a thank you note to a friend, peer or family member at the end of each week.
Engaging in a short meditation session centered around gratitude.
Using visual indications such as sticky notes or phone reminders to help you intentionally set aside mental time for gratitude.
Keeping a gratitude journal and making it a daily or weekly habit to write down a short list of things you are grateful for.
Finding a book with other suggested gratitude practices.
All in all, positive thinking portrays the idea that everything should be fixed within a positive light. On the other hand, gratitude allows you to understand what areas of your life are being challenged, while also helping you realize what aspects deserve value and gratitude. Even though many areas of your life may be immensely difficult, allow yourself to practice gratitude and not lose sight of the good. Who knows, it may be easier than you think.
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