The notion that practicing gratitude contributes to overall well-being is not new. In fact, the gratitude movement dates back to the early 1900s. Research suggests that gratitude is associated with increased life satisfaction, psychological health, and physical health.
But what exactly is gratitude? Gratitude can be conceptualized as a mood, an emotion, or a trait. Experiencing gratitude as an emotion means feeling thankful and appreciative. Often, gratitude is expressed for others when they are the source of a positive outcome. But you don’t have to wait for someone to bestow an act of kindness on you to be grateful. You can feel grateful for your qualities!
Getting caught up in the pursuit of a doctorate can be all-consuming. And for some students, that means forgetting to appreciate what else is in their life. But taking time to appreciate what you have, instead of focusing on what you lack, can increase your connection to others and your sense of well-being.
How to practice gratitude
Even though life might seem too busy take time to be mindful, to increase your resilience, try to carve out a few minutes every week for a gratitude reflection. A simple exercise is to write down what you are grateful for in a gratitude journal or simply reflect on things you are grateful for in your mind. Keeping a journal gives you the added benefit of being able to reminisce about your journey after you graduate.
If you have trouble finding things to appreciate, you can use gratitude prompts. Think of what you appreciate about the people you are close to such as friends, family, and classmates. Then think about what you appreciate about yourself. What qualities do you value about yourself? What were you most proud of in yourself in the past week? You can also appreciate your environment by scanning your five senses and taking note of what you can touch, see, smell, taste, and hear that you find pleasing.
Sustaining an Attitude of Gratitude
Sustaining an attitude of gratitude starts with recognizing what’s going well and then being appreciative. If you’re not in the habit of scanning for things going right, then gratitude can feel artificial in the beginning. But start where you are at and build from there, reaching deeper as the weeks go on. Your doctoral experience will become more empowered as you deepen your appreciation of it.
If you are having trouble appreciating your doctoral journey, let’s discuss why. Click here to coach with me.