Even though there are countless things to be thankful for, it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of life and what goes wrong over the blessings. Irritants and problems seem to blare in our faces and bring down our moods, while the positives fade into the background.
However, much of this life-view is a mindset. Granted, mental illness can make positive thoughts and mindset very difficult, but a key step to recovery includes focusing on what we are thankful for and trying to find the good amongst the bad. Numerous studies have shown that those who keep a gratitude diary or a positivity journal experience, overall, less depressive symptoms and perceived stress than those who do not.
One way to begin opposing negative thoughts is to write them down and to challenge yourself to find a positive counter-thought to change it. Expressing gratitude and brainstorming potential solutions (if there is a problem/issue) are good ways to find positivity. An example could be: Negative- I am so busy at work! I never have enough time to get everything done and am always bogged down! Positive- I am thankful to have a job and a way to earn income. I will make myself a schedule to organize my time and plan my responsibilities.
Of course, it may not always be possible to find a positive alternative to a negative, such as if a loved one passes away suddenly or there are unescapable financial burdens. But these are the times when, though we may not see a positive outcome at the time, we grow and become stronger through our struggle. It may be very uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, to grow and persist through these hard times, but positives develop from them, even if the only positive is that we showed ourselves that we could make it through.
So today, set aside some time to challenge the negatives in your life. You may surprise yourself with how encouraged it makes you feel!
Written by Heather Ehnert, Communications & Advocacy Intern