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Growing gratitude

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study
A notebook with the text, "Today I am grateful for"

Gratitude – the appreciation of the good things that happen in life - is an essential part of building resilience. When you’re going through a tough time it can be hard to remember to be grateful for the good stuff, but there’s a stack of benefits that can be gained from working gratitude into your everyday life.

The benefits of gratitude

  • Feeling more positive, even when times are tough.
  • Improving your health; feeling positive can benefit your immune system and improve your mental health.
  • Help build better relationships with those around you.
  • Building resilience, so when things go wrong you’re able to cope with life’s challenges and carry on with your commitments and responsibilities.

So how do you experience gratitude?

Experiencing more gratitude is easy and doesn’t take much time. The tricky bit is in making gratitude a habit. Try these ideas and see what works best for you:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Take five minutes each day or once a week to think of and write down three things that have happened that you’re glad you experienced.
  • Take pictures. Set yourself a task to photograph little things in your everyday life that make you smile. It can be as simple as that yummy piece of toast you ate for breakfast, or the beautiful flowers in your neighbour’s front yard.
  • Tell someone you’re grateful to have them in your life. Whether it’s someone you look up to, or someone who just makes you happy, take the time to tell them you’re glad they’re around. It won’t only make them feel great, but will give you the warm and fuzzies too.
  • Meditate. Focus on the present moment, concentrate on your body’s sensations and allow thoughts to pass without judgment. Headspace’s Mediation App has some great meditations for cultivating gratitude.
  • Write a thank you note. Express your appreciation of that special person's impact on your life. Better still, hand the note to them in person.

We asked some CDU Student Ambassadors what they are grateful for. Here’s what they had to say:

“For me, today I am grateful for my partner, the constant support that he gives me with my career choices, life decisions, what food to cook... even with the thousands of kilometres between us. 

I am grateful for this ambassador program that has helped me with my personal development. I was seriously one shy kid when I first joined. But, now I can talk in front of hundreds of people without hesitation! 

I am also grateful for how much I have grown mentally in the past years and how much emotional control I have over the everyday events that happen in life.” - Nadia Craven

 “I am grateful for having a chance to study in CDU. I have learnt a lot of new things, developed amazing skills and get to meet different people from different backgrounds. It’s a great achievement to be here in Australia and the chance to be here in CDU.” - Nabiha Nusrat

How does this relate to you as a uni student? Feeling and expressing gratitude turns our mental focus to the positive, which overrides our brain's natural tendency to focus on threats (cue fight or flight response). During times when life, study, relationships and/or work mightn’t be going to plan, practicing gratitude will help your reap the benefits of good mental and physical health.

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