A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Standpoint on Gratitude
by Brian Fensternacher
When you think of gratitude, what comes up for you? Some individuals believe gratitude is simply being thankful or navigating through life with a positive attitude. Gratitude is so much more than having a positive outlook and being grateful. Research has shown that gratitude helps us appreciate the good things in life. Gratitude increases our self-esteem, confidence, and happiness and provides several health benefits. All around, expressing gratitude helps us feel better and impacts our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our experiences of gratitude can help others think of gratitude as well.
DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, can help us navigate our lives more dialectically. On more challenging days, DBT helps us acknowledge our challenges and acknowledge good, small things to lessen our suffering.
A quick way to practice gratitude is by using our senses to slow down and bring awareness to what is around us. Whether you have one minute or one hour, you can experience gratitude every day. Take time with each of your senses and experience ways gratitude comes up for you. Here are some tips on how to use your senses to help practice gratitude!
Vision: Using sight by looking at things that bring comfort and joy. This could look like watching a sunrise or sunset, looking at old family pictures or a favorite pet, admiring art, stepping outside and looking at nature around you, or even watching your favorite movie.
Hearing: Finding pleasant sounds can help us find gratitude in the most minor ways. Listening to your favorite playlist, the cackling sounds of a fireplace, bird songs, or the sounds of the ocean are some examples of pleasant sounds.
Smell: The famous saying, “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses,” help people take a step back and be grateful for the small things in life. Smelling flowers, your favorite candle, or a hot cup of tea or coffee can increase your awareness of an everyday experience.
Taste: Mindful eating is eating with intention. Next time you eat, stop and take a moment to take small bites and enjoy the meal or snack. Try to find ways to use your sense of taste to savor your next meal or snack.
Touch: We touch many things throughout the day. Next time you pick up an item, such as a blanket, use your sense of touch to identify how the fabric feels in your hand. Bring your awareness to the sensation of the material.
Our well-being benefits greatly from gratitude. Taking moments to connect with our senses and the world around us is a great way to be intentional as we navigate throughout our day. Gratitude is all around us. How are you going to practice gratitude today?