Today’s Solutions: October 16, 2021

As a growing body of research shows that the simple daily practice of keeping a gratitude journal can significantly improve your wellbeing. But while it’s tempting to only write down the good things you enjoy in life, it’s important to remind yourself of the more challenging stuff, too, by balancing out your journal with setbacks.

According to brain plasticity expert Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., tweaking your gratitude practice by balancing out your journal with setbacks can go a long way towards improving your mental wellbeing and relieving stress.

As Suzuki writes in her upcoming book, Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion, stressors and setbacks can be used as positives, moving us forward towards more self-awareness and success down the line. Acknowledging these setbacks will also help you reflect on how much you overcame and adapted to down the line.

Be it fear, worry, or anger, these are all emotions that we often perceive as negative, despite the fact that there’s a lot to learn from them, too. So by recognizing them as instructive feelings, not just things to be suppressed, Suzuki says you can learn a great deal about yourself.

“What is fear teaching me about what I value? What is worry telling me about my life and what is going right and what is going wrong and what my dream is? If I approach those emotions as protective and informative, I have a very different way of dealing with them,” she tells MindBodyGreen.

A great way to reframe the way you perceive these emotions is to express gratitude for them. Suzuki, who is a major proponent of keeping a gratitude journal, explains that she now includes setbacks as well as successes. This simple tweak has switched her perspective on fear and anxiousness from “that thing I never wanted to have to that thing I needed.”

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