Why Thankfulness Matters in the Midst of Trauma


Active trauma memories are those memories that get triggered. They're both intrusive and painful. They'll disturb your mind, focus, productivity, and sense of hope for the future. It'll also alter your present perspective on life. Fortunately, you can push back against such an assault. The most valuable way of doing so is by cultivating a sense of gratitude.

Why Gratitude is so Powerful

Anxiety is the involuntary reaction to an imagined, anticipated loss of some type. The exact opposite of loss is gain, especially when you've already made that gain. When we become aware of this gain gratitude (a.k.a. thankfulness) arises. Thankfulness is more than a feeling. It makes us feel protected, promotes good health, and changes our outlook for the better. It's also a pathway to happiness.

One study shows that happiness also enhances protective factors and offers a buffer against engaging in high-risk behaviors. Other studies have shown that it can have a positive effect on those suffering from PTSD. These studies have looked at how gratitude is equally, if not more, effective as relaxation methods in helping one overcome trauma. However, cultivating happiness is much like physical exercise in that it takes time and consistent effort.

How to Practice Gratitude

Incorporating the practice of gratitude in our lives is something that we can easily do. It can be as easy as looking for and noticing good things then appreciating them. Take time to really savor the good things around you - write them down in a gratitude journal or share them with someone around you.

Considering gratitude's many benefits it only makes sense for those who have PTSD to take a little time each day to practice it. All it takes is a little effort to incorporate it into your life and there's no better time than this month, which is already all about gratitude anyway. So, what are you thankful for today?