Making a Gratitude Adjustment

When we are happy, it is a lot easier to think of the good things in life including all of our blessings and the people we love and cherish.

VWHE Spring 2012 Gratitude Presentation by Svea Miller

VWHE Spring 2012 Gratitude Presentation by Svea Miller – Photo taken by Natalie Coe

But when our “happy” defenses crash – it is a lot harder to find those gratitude moments and hold onto them.

Last year at the Vermont Women in Higher Education conference, I presented a workshop on “Making a Gratitude Adjustment” which was well attended and I had a lot of fun preparing for and presenting. Lately, I have been thinking about that workshop and wondering if I am actually following my own advice.

At the time my theory was that the attitude of gratitude was a way of bringing positive growth into your life, a way to renew your self-image and refresh your outlook on life one day at a time. Being thankful for not only the little things in life but partaking in a conscious effort to recognize and acknowledge the gifts we have received being a way for many of us to maintain a good balance of mental and physical health.

While the workshop that I presented was created specifically for women, what I had and have to say can apply to anyone. Some of the tips that I gave to my workshop attendees I do each day while others I should probably work on! Here are some of the things that can make a difference in my day:

    • Make a gratitude list in the evening or in the morning
    • Count good things (when you are in the elevator, lying in bed, walking to a meeting, etc.)
    • Ask friends or family what makes them grateful (it is a great way to get to know people and share positive thoughts)
    • Keep a gratitude or thankful journal (Writing is a great way to express our gratitude and also to reflect on what is going on so that we are able to take a different perspective. It is a way to get to know who you are, how you think, what your opinions are, and gives you a voice and thus you have SELF.)

Other writing techniques could be…

    • Morning pages (when you get up in the morning before you even talk to anyone, take a minute or two and just write – this is the time when you can really dive deep as no one else has influenced you yet.
    • Timed writing (set a timer and free write for 10 minutes on whatever is on your mind. Don’t think too much, just write until your time is up.)
    • List of gratitude’s (if writing seems a little daunting – make a list – I am GREAT at lists!)
    • Meditative doodling (and if writing really isn’t your style – take a moment to doodle – just to free up your mind and get your thoughts out creatively.)

While writing, thinking, and talking about gratitude is super helpful to me, I also do less time consuming things throughout the day that boost my mood! Again, the trick for me is not so much to “just do” these things, but to be aware of taking time to adjust my mind-set so that I boost my mood.

  • Listen to a positive song (songs from The Mamas and Papas or the Beach Boys usually get me in a happy mood)
  • Read an uplifting book (or a chapter in a book during my lunch break)
  • Say hello to my chickens
  • At night I often watch a funny or inspirational movie
  • During the day, when I need a smile, I check out some of the quote websites out there for a positive quote (my favorite website is The Quote Garden)
  • I like to wake up my brain and body during the day  (do some Sudoku or yoga stretches)
  • Spend time in the kitchen
  • Give a hug and get a hug
  • Go for a walk with a friend or walk the dog
  • Take time to have a cup of tea (I try to do this every day at work – it really helps me relax, especially on a cold day like today)
  • Each morning, find one thing to symbolize gratitude and think about that for the day

What do you do to center yourself and keep a positive outlook on the day?


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