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Why Is Gratitude Such A Big Deal In The Self Help Realm?

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When it comes to self development advice, we’re bombarded.

One thread comments on the importance of setting actionable goals.  Another strand emphasises the role of visualisation and acting ‘as if.’  A third route professes the strength behind gratitude and just letting things naturally form in their own way: finding the opportunities and just saying Yes.

Today I want to talk about gratitude.

It’s a big deal in the self-development and wellbeing arena. But on it’s own, it can sound wishy-washy. We know that imagining rainbows and unicorns will not conjure them into being. What good is it to focus on positives, especially ones that are gone? What power is there in ignoring the difficulties, when we need to problem-solve them?

The human brain is ingrained with something called “negative bias.”

This was a crucial survival tool. Thinking of us as cave-people, remembering and putting a lot of emphasis on the threats, the poisonous berries, the grizzly bear instead of the beautiful sunrise was actually a survival mechanism.

If you things went wrong last time, and you make those same mistakes again, it could kill you. This is why we remember negatives, ruminate on them more, worry about the future based on our negative past-events. In evolution and survival, it makes sense.

And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever look back on the difficulties, the lessons learned. In some cases, it’s incredibly helpful to reflect on mistakes: it’s how we improve, grow and learn. In terms of a rooted reinvention, it’s especially important to consider what we’ve already tried and discovered.

However, this means our mind often values, and focuses our time and energy on the things which went wrong, the perceived “threats.” And this is not good for our mental health, our sense of control over our life, or our motivation to keep making progress. Especially if the ‘threat’ is something like a negative text message that actually won’t matter in a month’s time.

This is why people value gratitude.

We can use a gratitude practise to shift the balance back.

I don’t care whether you mentally go through 10 things a day, say one aspect of your life you are grateful for a whole week or write out a long gratitude log in flowing pages of a journal…

I have a google document that is just a pretty numbered list on my phone to add to, and read if I need the boost.

If you’re ever feeling bogged down by the negatives, gratitude is a simple, factual way to just tip the scales back in your favour.

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