Our brains are hard wired to focus on threat, danger and vulnerability, and 2020 has given us a lot to focus on: a global pandemic, overcrowded hospitals, loved ones sick and dying, political conflict and unrest, economic uncertainty and racial injustice. There is no shortage of negative and threatening information to grab and hold our attention.
Fortunately, our brains have given us the capacity to manually override the tendency to focus on the negative. One tool is to identify the things in your life for which you are grateful. If you find yourself locked in negativity or you want to create a more positive outlook, one simple exercise is to start a gratitude journal. This exercise is particularly relevant around Thanksgiving, when we traditionally concentrate on the people and things in our world that we are thankful for. Gratitude, however, does not need to be a one-time per year Thanksgiving exercise.
Those who have learned to make a habit of gratitude report more joy and satisfaction in their lives and a greater sense of connection in close relationships. Additionally, practicing gratitude is likely to result in less toxic and negative emotions like depression, anger, and anxiety. There is evidence that cultivating an attitude of gratitude changes neural functioning in your brain.
You can download the fillable forms below to help you get started on your gratitude journey. These worksheets are taken from Mind Over Mood, a best-selling self-help book co-authored by our director, Dr. Dennis Greenberger.
If you are interested in a more complete discussion about gratitude or other strategies to positively impact your moods and your life, read more about Mind Over Mood.