Christina Caron is a reporter for the Well section at The New York Times, covering mental health and the intersection of culture and health care. Recently she wrote a pice discussing how cultivating a grateful outlook, and taking a few minutes a day to count our blessings, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase self-esteem, and improve life satisfaction. Noting that, she asked her readers to tell her how they practice gratitude, and curated the nearly 800 responses she. received. Some of the best are highlighted below, but be sure to read the whole list and her entire article at nytimes.com. Then ask yourself, which of these might you be able to apply today?
- Record it. More than 100 respondents said that they use journals or apps like Day One, Gratitude Plus and Flavors of Gratefulness to keep track of the good things in their lives. “The best thing my therapist taught me was to record my ‘win’ every day,” said Elizabeth Chan, 35, who lives in San Antonio. “Doing so helped me develop my optimism muscles, which had atrophied for decades.”
- Walk It. Deborah Rathbun, 66, from Sharon, Conn., goes on a walk several times a week, always focusing on the beauty that surrounds her: “the blue of the sky, the leafy green trees, how the flag is moving nobly in the breeze, a drizzle that’s badly needed for the gardens.” Next, she reflects on the last 24 hours and thinks about the “very small things that went well or I’m pleased about.” It might be a friendly or funny exchange with a cashier or the thoughtful text she finally sent to a friend.
- Give thanks as a group. Louise Miller, 52, from Boston, said she writes her gratitude list in a journal and then texts the list to a group of friends who also share theirs. “They almost always include something that inspires more gratitude in me — it’s contagious!” she said. Zach Ford, 33, a Brooklyn resident, said he has been following a near-daily gratitude practice since his first weeks of sobriety about six years ago. Each morning he shares his gratitude list in an email with a handful of others.