If you are actively seeking to improve the quality of your life, you have heard of practicing gratitude. People with higher dispositional gratitude report having higher levels of several elements of psychological well-being, including more life satisfaction (McCullough et al., 2002).
Why practice Gratitude?
The more materials, money, relationships you have, the more you want, and the more you want, the more unhappy you are. STOP! Instead of measuring what you lack… look at everything you've achieved, the people in your life, and the future you get to paint.
Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to self-reflect. By focusing your attention and gratefulness on what positive things you already have in your life you can generate a sense of contentment and satisfaction thereby reducing stress and anxiety.
So how can you use art as a means to practice gratitude?
1. Start or end your day with a visual gratitude journal entry.
Pick up a pencil and start sketching or write down what you are grateful for. “This morning I’m grateful for….. this cozy bed I am laying in, my body, my family, friends, partner, cat or dog, my hobbies, my job, and colleges, or the sunlight brightening up my room. Reflecting on how fortunate you are will automatically brighten your mood, and starting the day with this positive mindset can help shape the rest of your day! What good things happened to you that day. What kindness did you show to others?
….. You could even be grateful that you’ve expressed yourself in your journal :)
2. When we give we feel good.
Show someone how grateful you are by giving them something personal like a piece of art that was made especially for them. The artwork reflects your gratitude for them being in your life. You could draw the things you love about them, or maybe a symbol of what they mean to you.
Sometimes telling someone how you feel about them may be uncomfortable, but a visual expression of your feelings can be creative and fun.
3. Create “a visual affirmation” of gratitude
Imagine the impact of walking into your kitchen and seeing an image that expresses what you are grateful for at a glance.
Creating this positive image will help you build and bring awareness to what you are grateful for and it acts as a reminder to acknowledge and sit with your gratitude as you wait for the kettle to boil.
4. Be grateful for tough times
Think about what life experiences have brought you to this difficult situation and what life lessons can be learned from it. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow during these tough times. Using your visual voice draw the outcome which you are working towards, this helps to focus your intentions. It allows you to put your experiences and feelings into context. Gratitude promotes a positive attitude, and because of this, your life will transform right before your eyes. You will begin to realize that no matter what’s happening, there’s always something to be thankful for.
Why not start getting grateful right here, right now? Ready? Set? Draw!
Practicing gratitude with Art is common exercise when attending Art Therapy. Art Therapy is suitable for all ages, for those who might not have the words or understanding of a situation, to those who are just trying to understand the way they feel.
This type of therapy may be helpful to you or for someone you know. To learn more contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 85 860 6441.
For more information on gratitude, where it comes from, what its benefits are, and how to cultivate it, read the science of gratitude from the Greater Good Science Paper.