Dear Tacit,
I try to look on the positive side of life and practice gratitude writing every day.  But I find I get stuck in a loop and can really only think of the same kinds of things.  Do you have any suggestions for how to recognize more positives in my life?
Signed: Going in Gratitude Circles
Dear Going in Gratitude Circles,
Congratulations for making such an intentional and practiced effort to train your brain to see the positives in your everyday life.  Our brains naturally focus on the negatives that we experience (this is an evolutionary trait that we are all born with called negativity bias).  So, unless we learn how to counter that pre-programmed negative thought process, we leave ourselves wide open for challenges like depression, anxiety, stress reactions, low esteem, etc.
To really get the most from daily gratitude exercises, we have to go beyond just noticing the things that we enjoy in our day.  We have to connect the appreciation we feel about something external to our own internal self by identifying what we did to contribute to the moment of enjoyment or satisfaction that we experienced.
For example, we might appreciate a beautiful, warm, sunny summer day.  But in order to get the full benefits from being grateful for that experience, we need to recognize how we allowed ourselves to embrace the moments that made us feel good.  We might write about how we allowed ourselves some breaks throughout the day and sat outside in the warmth and fresh air, relaxing and unwinding, taking care of our own needs in those moments.
You are right – it can be a challenge to come up with different gratitude’s every day, especially if our lives seem a little routine.  So here are some moments you can spend some time contemplating.  Try to recall the following, and focus on how each experience makes you feel about and within yourself.
A time when you felt brave/courageous
A family member who you are glad exists
A book you love to read
A friend you enjoy spending time with
A favourite thing you enjoy doing outside
A movie/show you recently watched and loved
A nice place you have travelled to (near or far)
Your favourite pet and a memory that you cherish together
A compliment someone gave to you
A time when you treated yourself
A challenge you overcame recently (and how)
A place you go to (in the world or in your mind) that lets you feel quiet/peaceful
A favourite memory from this year
Something you love about yourself
Something that always makes you laugh
Something useful in your home that you are grateful for
A time a friend did something for you that you were grateful for
A skill you have that you find helpful
Someone who has helped you solve a problem
A favourite family tradition you practice
A time when you were supportive/helpful to someone else
An outfit that makes you feel attractive
An old photograph that touches your heart
A meme that speaks to your soul
There are many more prompts available.  You can also make up some of your own, or ask others what helps them connect within themselves to something positive and affirming.
Take care!

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