Our brains help us to survive. We automatically scan the environment for what is wrong, what needs to be fixed in order to protect ourselves. It can be an effort to focus on what is good and right, and what we have to be grateful for.
In 1998, Martin Seligman introduced positive psychology. This branch of psychology focused on the benefits of optimism and awareness of our positive traits and experiences, and included the study of gratitude and its impact on the individual. Gratitude, appreciation or thankfulness is often a focus during the holidays. It has been found that having a regular practice of gratitude changes the brain and increases one’s happiness, health and well-being. Experiencing gratitude has been associated with better sleep and immunity, decreased anxiety, depression and chronic pain.
Keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to lower stress levels, induce calm, boost mood, increase one’s overall happiness.
A simple exercise which can be effective: Take 10 minutes each day to record 3 things that went well and why, the details of the event, and how this event made you feel. This practice of focusing on what and whom one is grateful for, shifts one’s focus to awareness of the positive experiences in your life.
With clinical hypnosis, we emphasize positive experiences and affect, and make suggestions that increase positive emotions and feelings about oneself. Using self-hypnosis, we can make such suggestions to ourselves. A practice of gratitude integrates well with self-hypnosis, and we can effectively enhance our mood and well-being, utilizing language, suggestion, and awareness.