Self

How To Harness The Power Of Gratitude — And Keep It All Year Long

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woman, eyes closed, hands to head in prayer pose

What better way to kick off the holiday season than by reflecting on what we are thankful for?

Taking a moment to consider what you are grateful for and expressing appreciation will nourish and sustain your spirit and foster calm. Practicing gratitude also strengthens your relationships with people in your life and boosts your self-esteem.

Sometimes adults (and kids) living with ADHD get down on themselves and allow critical self-talk to take over. Of course, this can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they have ADHD.

When that happens, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a cycle of negativity and over-focus on what’s wrong or missing in your life.

Practicing gratitude helps spotlight what’s going well to counteract those troubling emotions.

RELATED: 5 Tips To Teach Ungrateful Kids An Attitude Of Gratitude

Three ways to harness the gratitude of the holiday season for a happier year ahead

1. Acknowledge the good.

We all live busy, hectic lives and often our attention is focused on problems, disappointments, and hardships. It requires deliberate effort to pause and consider what’s going right and how the people in our lives are making a positive difference.

Carve out a little time in your week to try journaling. This will help you focus on the good in your life and process how you feel about it.

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Journaling 101

As an exercise in gratitude, start by listing 3 positive things, big or small, and why they make you feel good. Here are some examples to help you get started:

Example 1: “I showed up on time to several meetings this week with the help of alarms and reminders. It feels nice to have time to settle in instead of rushing into the conference room late and having everyone stare at me.”

Example 2: “I appreciate what a good listener my grandma is. I can share all my thoughts with her (even the weird and awkward stuff), and I always feel heard and loved. Plus, her oatmeal cookies are the best!”

Example 3: “I didn’t expect to be invited to my neighbor’s birthday party but was glad to be included. I could go home any time, which took a lot of pressure off. I even made a new friend!”

RELATED: 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude

2. Appreciate yourself

Appreciating yourself and your gifts goes a long way toward self-acceptance. We all have wonderful qualities, talents, and strengths. Everyone is special and unique in their own way, so don’t fall into the compare and despair trap.

Instead of looking at others and worrying whether you measure up, appreciate who you are.

Consider asking a trustworthy friend, loved one, therapist, or coach where they think your strengths lie if you can’t decipher them for yourself. Then, pause to take in what they say. So many people with and without ADHD quickly dismiss the positive things other people say to them.

And while you’re at it, if you feel comfortable, share something you admire about them too. Notice the ensuing connection and the ways that you both feel uplifted by this conversation.  So instead of beating yourself up for what you’re not, celebrate all you are.

RELATED: Find Gratitude In Unlikely Places Every Single Day

3. Express gratitude toward others

The holidays are a time to recognize the importance of giving thanks to the important people in our lives.

Giving thanks is an act of kindness and an expression of caring. It fosters integrity, generosity, and closeness.  Take some time to think about the people who bring you joy, are supportive, or love you for who you are. It could be a friend, relative, coach, mentor, or manager.

Consider and appreciate these people for being part of your support team, a precious resource that sustains you daily. How could you express gratitude towards them and show them how much they mean to you? This might be a written note, an act of service, or a heartfelt conversation.

Going the extra mile and showing your appreciation with a caring gesture will make both of you feel good.

I, too, would like to express my gratitude to each of you who are part of my ADHD community. Thank you for reading, watching, listening, and sharing. Your support and positive feedback inspire me every day.

My heart is filled with the strength, authenticity, warmth, and humor of an amazing group of people who think outside of the box, seek to learn more about neurodiversity and want to live the best versions of themselves. Thank you for sharing your stories with me.

Your courage and honesty continually impresses me every day. 

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Sharon Saline is a published author and psychologist. As an expert in ADHD, anxiety, and mental health she has over 30 years of experience helping clients overcome psychological challenges.

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This article was originally published at Dr. Sharon Saline's website. Reprinted with permission from the author.