The end of each year marks both an end but also new beginnings.  It is a chance to reflect on both what has been and what will be.  2020 has arguably been among the most challenging years in history physically, financially, politically, and emotionally.  As we embark on 2021, it is not only important to reflect on what lessons we have learned from these remarkable events, but also, more importantly, that we build resilience for what comes next for worse and hopefully for better.

So, what is psychological resilience?

Psychological resilience is the ability to adapt or rebound quickly from change, illness, or bad fortune[1].

One way to build our resilience in our emotional, social, and physical health is by the regular practicing of expressing gratitude.  Gratitude is the virtue of deliberately taking personal inventory of those things for which one is thankful that “affirms the good” in your life[2].

Research has shown that those who regularly express gratitude for the everyday things…

  • Can enhance their long-term happiness (by journaling gratitude for as little as 5 mins per day)
  • Can improve interpersonal romantic and family relationships and overall social support
  • Can be more optimistic, giving, and generous
  • Can enhance your performance at work and make you less impatient
  • Can improve your sleep
  • Can even improve your blood pressure

How does one start the regular practice of expression gratitude?

Gratitude does not need to focus on major life events. In fact, it’s the everyday gratitude that is most powerful.  First it must become a regular practice. That means build a habit around it.  Second it helps to express gratitude. So, while it may help to feel grateful, it is much better to express it outwardly in some form.

There are a variety of ways to express gratitude including journaling, sending cards, notes, emails, even prayer and meditation can be methods for expressing gratitude. There is an even an app for that. There are a wide range of free mobile apps for you phone to help you build a habit and process for more regularly expressing gratitude. It can even be as simple as the golden rule of “please” and “thank you”.  Start simple. The key is to develop a habit of being thankful and grateful for those things we do have rather than feel anger or frustration for those things we do not have.  So, as we head into 2021, let us all make a commitment to focus more attention on gratitude for our own resilience, health and that of others.

Author: Steve Schwartz, PhD, FLP

[1] https://psychologydictionary.org/resilience/
[2] https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition

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