Here is another excerpt from The Invisible Toolbox: Coping Skills for Everyday Resilience–a book I wrote to catalogue the my helpful techniques for responding to depression, anger, anxiety and unwanted urges.
Use In Response To: Depression, Anger, or Urges
Basic Idea: Regularly reflect on those aspects of your life that you are grateful for.
Description: Life can be like a treadmill sometimes—the more you accomplish, the more there is left to accomplish. The more you get, the more you want. For example, let’s say you have a functioning car but you would like a new car. While you are in the state of wanting the new car, you believe the new car will make you happy (“And it has heated seats!”). And when you get it, it does make you happy…for a short time. But as you come to get used to having the car, you can’t imagine how you once got by without it (or how your backside ever went without being toasted like a bagel). So instead of it being a positive thing that brings you happiness, you become accustomed to it and it no longer produces the pleasure it once did. If this pattern continues, your life might come to consist of going from one short-lived pleasure to another, with you never being more than momentarily satisfied.
The antidote to this problem is gratitude—wanting what you’ve already got. This is accomplished by thinking about the good things you have and, more importantly, the people you love but with the understanding that you are very fortunate to have these blessings in your life at all. Reflect on how their presence is so much better than their absence. Other things you might want to think about are the physical comforts of your home and conveniences, cherished possessions, means of transportation, access to clean water, your health, etc.
To use this as a coping skill, you would combat negative thoughts and emotions by forcing yourself to think about what you are most grateful for right in that moment. You can also do this as a regular practice by writing down three things that you are grateful for in a journal each night before you go to sleep.
Try it now: Think about your life and identify the three things or people that you are most grateful for.
Variations On Gratitude Journaling:
- What three things that happened today are you most grateful for?
- What three people outside your family are you most grateful to have in your life?
- What three events that occurred within your lifetime are you most grateful for?
- Who are the people that you are most grateful to have met?
- What three possessions are you most grateful for?
- What three experiences are you most grateful to have had?
- What three places are you most grateful to have visited?
- What are the three characteristics of yourself that you are most grateful for?
- What three books (or movies) are you most grateful to have experienced?
- What three challenges are you most grateful to have faced?
For more Coping Skills check out my free eBook here.