Gratitude and Mental Health
by Joshua Packard, General Mental Health Journal
In this blog, I hope to introduce ideas that help to promote mental health for whoever reads them. I am not an expert or a mental health professional, but my intention is to introduce helpful ideas, thoughts, practices, or strategies that you can follow up on by seeking out authors and professionals who might be able to better educate you on how you can apply such tools to improve your own mental health.
For the time being, I wanted to recommend contemplation of the idea of gratitude. The idea of gratitude has presented itself to me as one very important to a person's mental health. Can one be happy without gratitude? I would have to say that a person who is ungrateful and unthankful for anything almost by definition cannot be happy. If I am not grateful, how can I possibly be happy? And if I am happy, wouldn't I at least be grateful for my happiness?
In thinking about gratitude, I have a glimpse that there is much depth and richness to this reality of gratitude. Just the act of thinking about and acknowledging what I have to be grateful for is a practice which produces joy. And when in difficult times, trying to think of what I have to be grateful for is very powerful in getting myself through struggles.
Searching Amazon and my local library's catalog, there are many books about gratitude and thankfulness. I recommend searching for and obtaining some books on them. I want to recommend all to practice gratitude, to think about what it means to be grateful, and to consciously incorporate gratitude more fully into your mental life. I am going to be reading more about the subject, talking about it, and trying to practice it and express it. If anything, be grateful for the people in your life. Isn't it amazing how just the act of thanking someone and being grateful for them in your life, can turn someone's day around?
Also, I think that practicing gratitude is something that is crucial, especially during difficult times. We need to have something positive in our lives, and we need to recognize the positives, especially when there is so much pain and negative aspects in our lives. Appreciating and acknowledging the good in your life, or the potential for growth and improvement is essential. Recognizing the good, and knowing that things can and will get better is important to make any progress. Also, being thankful makes room for improvement. So many people are not thankful for what is good in their lives, and they wonder why things don't improve. We need to make room for what we don't yet have by being grateful for what we do.
If you want good for someone, and you give them so much, and they aren't grateful for what they have, and you keep giving to them, and they don't even thank you or appreciate what you do for them, how likely are you to keep giving to the unappreciative person? Life is like this. The more thankful we are, the more appreciative of the good we have, the more will be bestowed on us. And not that we are just going to be saturated with whatever we want. Being grateful isn't some kind of magic spell that will win us the lottery and give us all we dream of, but the opposite is true. Being ungrateful is a sure way to sabotage any chance we have of getting better.
Try gratitude. If you already do, great! But if you have been neglecting the practice of gratitude, start today!
Originally published at the General Mental Health Journal