I’ve been doing mindfulness in one form or another, for about 8 years now. Informally you can think of it as noticing your thoughts and feelings, non-judgmentally, and then choosing what to focus on next.
Dr Hazel Harrison, the creator of our Growing Gratitude series, takes her own advice and shares a letter of gratitude - with a twist.
I wanted to write and say “thanks” for all that you’ve done for me over the past few years. When you show up, I see the world differently. I let go a little of my envy, frustration and disappointment. Instead, you help me to notice the good in my life. To be grateful and to express that gratitude too.
When you’re around, I pay attention to how others are helping me, making time for me, sharing their skills and knowledge with me. But it’s not just people; you encourage me to give thanks for nature, for life’s smallest pleasures - like my Dad’s homemade florentines! You help me appreciate the everyday… and the amazing.
In recent years, lots of people have been trying to get a bit more of you into their lives. And psychologists have really been striving to understand all the positive elements you bring to our wellbeing.
You make us feel happier, more generous and less lonely (to name just a few of the benefits you bring). These benefits can last a lifetime.
Of course, it feels like it should be easy to be more grateful. But, as you know, it does take work. I’ve had to learn to take charge of my own thoughts and decide what to focus on. I’ve noticed that a deeper connection with you comes when I make the effort to turn my focus away from the negatives for long enough to remember all the positives in my life.
That’s not to say I ignore the bad or unpleasant stuff - I know that doesn’t help much either! But having you in my life encourages me to want what I already have, rather than wanting what I don’t.
Of course, this is something we all need to practise. And the Unmind series on Growing Gratitude helps us to do that, with a whole range of exercises designed to foster gratitude and help turn it into a regular habit.
I’m really hoping this series allows you to be introduced to even more people who can use you in their lives to help them build resilience and thrive.
You’ve helped me to appreciate my life in all its glory - from the mundane to the marvellous, from the everyday to the extraordinary.
P.S. Did I mention that the series suggests writing thank you letters, too? Funny that…