by Linde Marshall
“Happiness is the only thing that multiplies when you share it.” – Albert Schweitzer
There’s a good news movement on the rise! I am welcoming this movement because positive thoughts are proven to counter negativity and anxiety and increase happiness and emotional health. As parents, focusing on the good can be difficult with the stress and responsibilities we face each day especially when those pressures have seemed to multiply with COVID’s impacts. It can be much easier to feel anxious. However, we can interrupt anxiety with gratitude — and we can role model this mindset to our children — equipping our children and ourselves with skills to combat anxiety and enjoy the positive health impacts, as well.
I recently stumbled across this gem in a Back to School Toolkit created by the Mind Springs Foundation for our local school district: “Studies show that practicing gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from negative emotions, such as resentment and envy. People who are grateful feel less pain, less stress, suffer insomnia less, have stronger immune systems, experience healthier relationships, and do better academically and professionally.”
According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist who studies the mind-body connection: “Gratitude is such a powerful thing! When you have a grateful attitude, your brain releases neurotransmitters and neurohormones that will boost mood, focus, clear thinking and activates a flow of healthy quantum energy through the brain and body, enhancing mental and physical health. So next time you are anxious, find something to be grateful for!”
A gratitude mindset is a real antidote to interrupt anxiety and shift attention away from the day-to-day heaviness so many of us are facing. Here are a few suggestions to help you get the best results as you begin practicing gratitude:
Keep a Gratitude Journal.
This exercise is only intended to take a few minutes each day, but experts suggest writing in it only once or twice a week, with the idea that you write down a couple of sentences with the things you are grateful for. No one will be reading this, so don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or your handwriting. Instead, focus your thoughts on something you are grateful for no matter how big or small, silly or serious. Think of the things you are about to write down as a gift, and then jot them down.
Think Good Thoughts.
Did you notice how I suggested that you think of each item you are about to write down in your gratitude journal first as a gift? Greater Good Magazine notes, “Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful.” Thinking good thoughts is an important part of the equation.
Share Your Good News with a Friend and Validate Their Good News.
A behavioral health study showed that by verbally sharing good news with a friend or partner, who receives your good news with support by validating what they hear, you will have the most positive impact toward happiness. This study truly validates Albert Schweitzer’s opening quote: “Happiness is the only thing that multiplies when you share it.”
Did you know it only takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic? What if we were all committed to creating a gratitude habit? Now there’s something good to think about!
Linde Marshall is the proud mother to four school-aged children. She juggles motherhood while simultaneously managing her own public relations + community affairs firm Purposeful Colorado, based in Grand Junction. Coffee, connection, and dry shampoo are foundational to her success.