Join Vassar junior Emily Schaffer as she explores the positive effects that instituting a gratitude practice can have on one's life, and provides examples of different methods tat can be used to help reduce levels of depression, stress, and anxiety, and can cause an increase in feelings of belonging, well-being, and happiness.
Hey everyone. My name is Emily and I’m a junior psychology major here at Vassar. Thanks for joining today. In this podcast, we are going to be discussing the positive effect a gratitude practice can have on your life, and I’ll talk a little bit about some people’s personal experience with gratitude practices. I know you’ve probably all heard of gratitude before but I’ll read out a quick definition. Gratitude is defined by Oxford Languages as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Now, that seems simple enough and you might be thinking “I’m grateful for things, I know it's good to be grateful for things, but I don’t see how gratitude could help my life.” Well, that’s what I thought before I began diving a little deeper into the science behind gratitude practices. Based on studies by psychology researchers, gratitude practices can reduce levels of depression, stress, and anxiety, and can cause an increase in feelings of belonging, well-being, and happiness. Now, I should probably explain a few examples of gratitude practices now that I’ve explained the possible benefits of them. I think a popular method, and my preferred method, is writing in a gratitude journal. There are many prompts and templates you can find online that give you daily things to think or write about. One example that comes to mind is “write 3 things you appreciate in your daily life. Elaborate on one of them and why you appreciate it.” Now I know that this kind of thing might seem too simple or obvious, but even doing simple easy things like this daily can surprisingly make big changes in your life. By starting to write in a gratitude journal daily, you begin to notice things you are grateful for during your everyday life. Before starting a practice you might walk directly to your class at 9 AM while simply thinking about how tired you are or how much you have to do during the day. After starting a practice, you may begin to simply notice “wow today is a beautiful day, that’s something I can write about in my gratitude journal tonight.” It seems a bit cheesy, but writing in a gratitude journal can slowly, and effectively, change your mindset to be a bit more positive, and notice things you may not have before. But you don’t need to take my word for it. My good friend from back home is an avid gratitude practice advocate, and I asked her some questions about how gratitude has affected her life.
I first asked her “How did you first get into or learn about gratitude practices?”
She said, “I listened to a masterclass on the Calm App about the importance of gratitude and how to cultivate a daily practice.”
I then asked “What kind of gratitude practice do you do yourself, and what would you recommend for beginners?”
She responded, “For beginners, I recommend writing down 3 things they are grateful for either every night before they go to bed or right in the morning when they wake up for 3 weeks. It doesn’t have to be something crazy big like a perfect relationship. It can be as small as fresh water to drink or opposable thumbs! As someone who has relied on gratitude a lot, I can now offer gratitude to not only the good things in my life, but to the hardships as well for teaching me important and valuable lessons.”
Finally I asked her “How do you think your gratitude practice has changed your life and mindset?”
She said, “Gratitude has helped me cope with tremendous life challenges, including the pandemic. I’m able to appreciate the things in my life I have now and created as a result of the pandemic despite all the things I could complain about that were taken away from me. Gratitude has also significantly improved my relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.”
As you can see, even a small gratitude practice can have a really big impact on your life. Something so small as thinking of one thing you are grateful for each day can drastically change your outlook and mindset. So, if you have an extra minute today, why not think of a few things you are grateful for and see how gratitude can help you.
Thank you so much for joining and I hope you all have a wonderful day.