Gratitude

I read an interesting article the other day: it discussed the habits of happy people versus the habits of unhappy people. One of the big factors in feeling happy in life is a sense of gratitude; the more grateful people were, the happier they tended to be.

Days slip by quickly sometimes and I don’t always remember to be thankful. Also, it’s often easier to focus on what’s going wrong, rather than what’s going right, thanks to the negativity bias of the human brain. How can we make more time to be grateful with such busy lives?

gratitude

Build a Routine

Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the many beautiful things in life. It’s an easy practice you can incorporate into your everyday routine, such as right before bed or right upon waking. It takes only a few minutes and it will refocus your brain to have a more positive outlook.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Write down a few things (or even just one thing) you are grateful for each day. It could be a person who helped you that day, a random act of kindness you witnessed, or a situation that didn’t go wrong. On a day you’re feeling down, reference the journal entries for an instant mood refresh.

Retrain Your Brain

After making gratitude a habit of your everyday life, you can actually retrain your brain to focus on the positives, instead of the negatives, that happen each day. Once you start to make this outlook a habit, your brain will begin to automatically search for what’s going right. All it takes is a few minutes a day!

It’s almost guaranteed that something positive happened to you today. What was it?

How Instagram Helped My Anxiety

I’ve read many articles about social media’s destructive effects on mental wellbeing. Social media does indeed have the capacity to foster negativity, unnecessary comparison, and feelings of inadequacy. But what if we focused on the beautiful things social media does? That’s what I try to do, and it’s changed my life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with anxiety. I constantly needed something to worry about. I could recognize that most of my worries were irrational “what-if?” scenarios, but that didn’t keep them from playing over and over in my mind.

I couldn’t break the cycle of worry, fear, and sadness; it was taking over my life. And then, I discovered Instagram.

winterI first started on Instagram by following popular accounts that I found beautiful. The colors, the places, the stories; I loved it all. Scrolling through my feed of positive messages took my mind off my worries and gave me a much-needed break from my constant anxiety. I realize this is the double-edged sword of social media: Its ability to distract from real life can be destructive, but in my opinion, it can also be a reprieve, a chance for mental clarity, and a launching point to realizing personal goals.

As I started discovering more accounts and more people, I was impressed, impassioned, and comforted by the sheer beauty of the world. Social media is an amazing way to connect with different people, ideas, thoughts, and cultures. I was introduced to farmers, world travelers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, models, moms, interior designers… the list goes on.

My favorite accounts all had two components in common: passion and creativity. Each person was sharing his or her enthusiasm with the rest of the world. The moms share the journeys of their children, the artists are painting and photographing, the activists are working for change, the world travelers are exploring.

The passion of others directly fueled the passion inside me. What was my contribution? What would my space say about me? How could I inspire others and continue this positive trend that had helped me so much? I immediately reflected inward. In the wake of my anxiety, I had lost who I was. I lost what made me feel alive. I forgot I had a creative story to share. I believe that anxiety is energy being allocated to the wrong place. Instead of hiding away in fear and worry, I turned that energy into action.

Social media, I’ve learned, must be utilized only as a celebration of a life well lived. It cannot be enjoyed as life itself, because it isn’t life. Allow social media to inspire, educate, and connect you. Follow only the accounts that speak to you in a positive way. Don’t allow the achievements of others make you question your worth or importance, for you have a story and a passion that only you can share. What will it be?