I've talked a lot in the past about the power of small changes, how habits compound and the profound impact that each of these small changes can make in our lives in the long term, all inspired of course by James Clear's Atomic Habits.
One such small change that has had a really positive impact on my mental wellbeing is that of gratitude. Every evening, after completely my daily journal, I take a brief moment to reflect on one thing I'm thankful for. I was sceptical at first, it felt like one of those cheesy Americanised affirmations (which are so cringe but also powerful, a story for another day perhaps), but the evidence is clear and my personal experience, once I'd committed to the idea is that the benefits are irrefutable.
No matter how much our world feels like it's falling apart around us, global pandemics, political crises, personal losses and challenges, there's always an infinite number of things to be thankful for. From the big stuff, health, family, a great job, right down to the little things that we take for granted yet so many people in the world don't have, clean running water, a warm bed, a roof that doesn't leak (most of the time), a single friend to turn to when in need or the opportunity to help a friend in return, even having a full head of hair on a bad hair day (see the above photo).
Taking the time to do this at the end of the day helps me to bring closure to my day, to take my mind away from the stresses of life and help me settle into the most important part of my day, sleeping.
I was fascinated to read more about gratitude in @MindNinja's Mind Flossing Toolkit recently. Mahrukh does a much better job of explaining the evidence than me and it's well worth getting the toolkit for these cards alone. I've certainly be grateful for these little cards on more than one occasion.
Historically, across the globe, humans have taken time for gratitude in the form of religion, being thankful for what we have to a higher power in prayer, yet as religion is a diminishing presence in many people's lives, it's important that we recognise the power of some of the practices that are commonplace across most religions.
Gratitude is more than just saying thanks for something nice, it helps us be mindful of the world around us, helping us to stay grounded, to reconnect the dots on a spiritual level and it helps us overcome the battles we face on a daily basis.