There is no doubt that 2020 has been a trying year for most of us. Whether it be social unrest, a deadly virus, job layoffs, and a lockdowns that limited travel, most people have at least one reason for increased anxiety. Throw in a few “typical” difficult life events, and you have a recipe for a really bad year.
Many are feeling the weight of 2020, and you may be one of them. Perhaps, you have not been officially diagnosed as depressed, but are you feeling less happy than in previous years? Have you found yourself more negative than you used to be, struggling to see the glass as half full? Have you been more “moody” or “snappy” with the people you love?
If so, you are not alone.
According to recent studies, most Americans reported being happiness levels that were their lowest in over a decade. Startlingly, less than 15 percent of people state they are “very happy.” Increasing numbers of people have reported higher rates of depression, anxiety, and general malaise. Optimism is so low that even the announcement of a COVID-19 vaccine has seemed to attract more negative comments than positive. What a year!
So what do you do? For that matter is there anything you can do to help manage your mental health during this time?
According to scientists, you can intentionally increase your happiness. Guess what, it doesn’t even require medicine (Or retail therapy). No, research tells us that you can increase your happiness through one simple thing.
That’s right, you can change your happiness by changing the way you think. Of course, modern researchers aren’t the first ones to come to that conclusion.
The proverb says “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”
Indeed, your outlook, and ultimately your reality, is directly affected by how you think. If you want to change your mood, limit your anxiety, and feel “better” in the midst of all these stressors, you can start by changing you thought life. But, whatever should you think about?
Another scripture admonishes us “brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
That is a pretty good list of things that we should “dwell” on. I have found that thankfulness is one of the best ways to lift my spirits. As you try to get a grip on your thought patterns, try this activity.
The Three Blessings Practice
Understanding that thankfulness, or as the scripture says, thinking on things worthy of praise, is a great first step to improving your contentment. I have found the Three Blessings Practice is a great help. And, it is very simple.
Every morning, and any time throughout the day when you feel your mood dropping, list three things that you feel are a blessing in your life. Try to do it out loud if at all possible. (Screaming the names of your children may not go over well in a tense work meeting. So, in some settings it is best to just do it in your head.)
As you list the blessings in your life, you will find your spirits lifting. I know I can’t help but get happier when I think about my wife or my girls, calling them by name. In addition, that spirit of gratitude will become part of your life and you will find thankfulness pushing back negative emotions in all sorts of situations.
That’s it. I know it is simple. I also know it works.
Today, start listing your blessings. Out loud.
You may like it so much that you won’t stop at three.
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