I am taking a Specialization Series of Courses from Penn taught by the father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman. It has been such a pleasure to learn about this theory of Psychology and I have been affirmed to see that so much of what I refer to as Living With Intention and Purpose is not only taught in the area of Positive Psychology but has also been extensively researched and studied.
I love that one of the top strengths of living a life full of well-being is gratitude. Research shows that the practice of gratitude contributes significantly to our feelings of well-being. In fact, if someone is given the opportunity to do something that they enjoy for an afternoon that is solely for them, or do something that is "others-centered" therefore, creating a sense of helping others and a feeling of gratitude, people that did something for others in need came away from the experience with more pleasure and well-being than did the other group that solely did something for themselves.
Gratitude can begin as a practice. It can be something that we desire to create within ourselves. Eventually, we can really begin to feel gratitude in our everyday life. One of the ways that Seligman says that we improve our gratitude is to do exercises that promote the feelings of gratitude. We can cultivate gratitude for others, for ourselves, our situations, etc. He promotes what he calls the What Went Well exercise. In this exercise, you name three things that went well during your day. It could be that you made it to work on time, or you made a terrific lasagna. May-be you didn't yell at your kids today or you smiled at five people on purpose. No matter how small, the things that went well for you count.
Try this exercise at home and see if it helps you create a sense of gratitude for your life. My three things that went well today include 1) I was able to continue my learning of French in Duolingo, 2) I celebrated a wonderful Father's Day with my husband and children, and 3) I was able to give to a friend that is going to Mexico on a Mission's Trip with her family. Recognizing all of these things helps me realize the greater gifts--a mind that is capable of learning/a computer that works/an app that is free and teaches me French, a wonderful husband that spends time with his family/children that still want to hang out together/memory of my father who was amazing, and having money to give to others who are our there doing selfless work for children in need. Life is good...even on the days when we need a little help uncovering it's goodness. Make today a day that you can be proud of and thankful for!