When life appears stressed and out of order, surrounding yourself with nature can make it easier to get to a place where expressing gratitude is possible.
Incorporating gratitude in times of transition can sometimes be difficult when we are hurting. However, mindful and positive connections to nature and the natural world can become the ground work for appreciation.
Finding the ability to express gratitude is important. Science has shown that doing so can actually change how your brain works.
Tasks of gratitude work, according to an article written by Christian Jarrett on The Cut. They have a self-perpetuating nature, at least in part. That means the emotion you feel continues without any further intervention.
The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.
Positive psychologists have found that feeling gratitude can help a person’s well being. Writing letters of thanks and keeping a gratitude diary can also help, according to Jarret’s article.
For example, this study of students in a management class found they experienced reduced levels of stress when keeping a gratitude diary. The Cut notes that another study found those who kept such journals had lower levels of depression.
Positive psychology may seem a bit flaky, right? How can we always “look on the bright side?” I remember my mom always telling me to look on the bright side and count your blessings; at times it was easy and at times it was not.
So how do you keep looking on the bright side, express gratitude, and be thankful, when life seems so stressed and out of balance?
Expressing gratitude for what nature offers is not only a way to engage our senses, but it creates mindful and positive expression. Being around nature has psychological benefits as well. Handling living plants, watching them grow, smelling the aroma, listening to the sounds, and tasting what nature provides entices our five senses.
Becoming mindfully aware of ourselves is scary. I heard a quote once that said, “If we always focus on the behavior of others, we may miss the origins of that behavior—ourselves!” At times, we get judgmental of others, thinking they are ungrateful. It’s typically easy to improve efforts with focusing on the offender, by trying to change others’ attitudes or behaviors. What if we take a step back and look more objectively at our own perspective? We may miss that it is US!
By living in the moment – not looking back and not looking too far forward – can prove difficult, but is something nature teaches. It is in those moments of feeling a rain drop on our skin or the warmth of the sun on our face that we engage with a sense of a grateful mind.
Thinking of nothing but that moment of time in nature has a way of guiding us to a centered focus of mindfulness.
One way to focus our mind on the things in life that should evoke feelings of gratitude is to write them down. We go through our day, at times, taking for granted that the traffic lights work or our tap water turns on, etc. By taking the time to privately express thankfulness for all the good in our life and the good that nature provides to us, we will be inclined to positively express. That can create a chain reaction of the effect onto others.
I hope you used the month of November and will continue to use your natural environment to enlighten your hearts to positively express gratitude and become mindful of how you are interacting with your surroundings. The psychological benefits will become self-perpetuating.