How to practice gratitude when you have chronic pain?

Gratitude encourages us to understand our circumstances in a way that can increase our feelings of joy. 

Practicing gratitude on a daily basis has been linked to reduced stress and pain, and increased happiness. 

This is great news for people with chronic pain, especially as practicing gratitude is free, and easy.

So, how can you add the act of gratitude to your daily routine? Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Share genuine compliments daily

Tell your spouse, friends and family how much you appreciate them, and mean it!

When your significant other returns from work or your best friend calls, show your genuine appreciation and happiness. Value those in your life in small ways.

2. Practice gratitude every morning. 

Like anything else, the more you practice the easier it gets. Take ten minutes before you start your day to think about three things that you are grateful for.

This could be something as simple as having a safe home and place to sleep, through to your friends, pets or hobbies.

If you are religious, you can include this thankfulness in your prayers.


3. Learn from negative experiences

When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and then try to learn from it. Beating yourself up about mistakes or negative experiences isn't constructive. 

By looking for lessons, you can turn a negative into a positive. You will also reduce your chances of making similar mistakes in the future. 


4. Reframing

When you notice something or someone with a negative quality, try to reframe your mind to notice the positive. 

It's okay to acknowledge the negative and notice the feelings that it brings up, but don't allow that to become overwhelming.

For example, if you're traveling and you're squashed in the middle seat of a crowded flight, acknowledge that it is frustrating, but don't let it ruin your journey.

Instead, try and focus on the trip you are taking and how great it will be when you arrive, even though it’s a really difficult thing to do. 

5. Avoid toxic conversations

We all need to vent now and then, but try to keep a sensible limit on it.

Set a 'no gossiping, whining or criticizing' goal. 

Maybe you won't achieve it every day (you’d have to be a saint!), but give it a try and see how you feel after a week. 

You may notice a subtle positive shift in your interactions with others. 


Sources:

Personality and Individual Differences

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886912004011