Reality Check: Thinking of “Thank You”

Self-help programs often promote the benefits of gratitude. Especially during those times when you are feeling particularly ungrateful, thinking and saying “thank you” can be really helpful.

Let’s say you wake up feeling grumpy. Sometimes it happens! There may be no reason for your grouchy mood; it’s just there. You might even sense the beginnings of a headache to round out this unpleasant morning experience.

There are two ways your day can go from here. You can choose to go with the grouch, starting by complaining about the cat hair on the bed, discover that you have nothing suitable to wear, burn your toast, bang your toe, and that’s all before you set foot out of the house! We’d better wish good luck to your spouse, friends, and co-workers today, eh? They are going to need it!

However, you do have another choice. Before you let those toes hit the floor, you could choose to move away from the grouch. This can be easier said than done, but one useful strategy is to count your blessings. Literally. Think of things you are grateful for. Think you don’t have anything to be grateful for? Well, let’s see, you woke up, right? That’s one!

Why is thinking of “thank you” so beneficial?

In Reality Therapy, we consider behaviour to be “total.” That is, behaviour is not limited to the actions we take; it also includes what we think, feel, and how our physiology acts.

Some components of our behaviour are easier for us to control than others. For example, when we wake up feeling irritable, with our physiology contributing a nice little headache, telling yourself, “I choose that my head will stop hurting”  and “I choose to feel cheery instead of grumpy” will probably not help much. That’s because it can be really difficult to control our feelings and physiology directly.

The good news, however, is that we do have quite a lot of control over the other two components of behaviour: what we “do” and what we think. So, for example, the most effective way to change a cantankerous feeling is not by tackling it directly, but rather by changing what we are doing and/or thinking.

One action that you can try is to change the direction of your thinking. You know that some thought directions only make bad moods worse. For example, does comparing your life, work, or situation to that of someone else leave you feeling better or worse? If it’s worse, you might want to try a different direction for your thoughts.

By their very nature, thoughts of gratitude bring with them more positive feelings.

If you find it difficult to think of things to be grateful for, start with the tiny things, even the absurd. For example, take delight in the graceful way that all that cat hair delicately floats in the sunlight…

Do you make a habit of thinking grateful thoughts? Does that help to keep your feelings positive? Let me know

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