Being grateful was never anything I consciously forced myself to be. People tend to naturally feel grateful when, for example, a friend does something nice for them, or when you escaped a dangerous situation safely. But my whole life, until recently, I have never sat down and purposefully listed every single thing I am grateful for – And doing this was a game changer!
I have recently discovered all these small things to be grateful for, and focussing my mind on those really boosted my positive outlook in life. Whether it is being grateful for your parents’ support, being in good health, or living in a safe society, simply reminding yourself of and appreciating the good aspects of your life is really important. Being grateful of any life event can shed some positive light on it, which can help you grow so much as a person.
In terms of my past phobia, it is easy for me to think of all the issues it has caused in my life; Being scared of every day experiences, being embarrassed, and keeping myself away from other people. But thinking about those self-inflicted negative consequences is not helpful at all, so I prefer to be grateful that I experienced living with emetophobia. It raised my awareness of ‘unusual’ mental illnesses, which is very important for my future career in Psychology. I also learned about the different forms and shapes anxiety can take on, which makes it easier for me to relate to and emphasise with others. I am also quite sensitive as a person, which I have recently learned to appreciate about myself – This trait has helped me be kinder, take care of others and myself better, and be very aware of my emotions.
I believe that any negative life experience, whether it be mental health issues, death of a loved one, or a break up, can be in some way turned into something that you are grateful for. Be grateful for having had someone in your life, the mental growth it induced, or simply for the good experiences and new pathways it led to. Research has shown that mental well-being is closely tied to how grateful you are (e.g. Rusk, Vella-Brodrick, & Waters, 2016), and it is so so SO easy to start being grateful right now.
It does not matter when (morning, evening, when you’re upset – you choose!), just consciously try to think of a few things every day that you are grateful for. I promise it will help you in one way or another, as a positive outlook never hurts anyone 🙂
“Comparison is the thief of joy”Appreciate yourself for who you are and what you have – nobody matters when looking at yourself, as you are all you need to reflect and learn.
References Rusk, R. D., Vella-Brodrick, D. A., & Waters, L. (2016). Gratitude or gratefulness? A conceptual review and proposal of the system of appreciative functioning. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(5), 2191-2212.