You’ve probably heard about the benefits of gratitude.
But as a military spouse, are you reaping those benefits? Like most things in life, there’s an art to learning how to be grateful.
When your life is constantly on the move and things are always changing, it’s helpful to use gratitude as an anchor to come back down. Research shows gratitude seekers are more stress-resistant and can easily block negative emotions.
This post will focus on why practicing gratitude is important, how to get started, and specific ways military spouses can discover gratitude.
Here’s a look at the art of practicing gratitude as a military spouse:
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude looks different for everybody. It’s the ability to feel an appreciation for various experiences in life — including receiving gifts, kindness from others, or simply an everyday experience.
When you understand gratitude as a whole, you generally won’t feel anxious about having to “pay back” the experience that made you grateful.
Gratitude also means reflecting on the things you’re grateful for and moving past negative experiences.
What are the Benefits of Gratitude?
In recent years, researchers have begun to better understand the benefits of gratitude. Not only are there social benefits, there are physiological, and physical ones, too.
- Social benefits include being more outgoing, forgiving, less lonely, and more compassionate as a whole. Researchers explain that gratitude is really a social emotion.
- Psychological benefits include feeling more alert, alive, happy, and optimistic. Researcher Chih-Che Lin discovered that high levels of gratitude had a positive strong impact on well-being for individuals. Regular gratitude practices can also help combat suicidal thoughts and depression.
- Physical benefits include a better immune system, reduced blood pressure, improved sleep and overall health. Plus, grateful people are more likely to exercise.
A consistent attitude of gratitude can also help improve relationships. Showing appreciation is proven to make you new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. That’s a must-have skill when you’re constantly moving and need to connect with new friends on a semi-regular basis!
Ways to Practice Gratitude as a Military Spouse
A lot of other emotions can feel more powerful than gratitude — if you let them. When you move often or plans get changed for you, it’s easy to let resentment or bitterness build up.
But how effective are those emotions if you let them simmer?
Instead, consider how you can focus on the positive and be grateful for the experience you’re going through. This will allow you to better enjoy the present moment instead of being filled with regret later for not enjoying it sooner.
Just remember, if you’re feeling grateful, it’s hard to be upset at the same time.
When you’re focused on being grateful daily, you’re more likely to see the benefits of gratitude sooner.
Here’s a look at some of the ways you can implement a gratitude practices as a milspouse:
Journaling just a few minutes a day about the things you have to be grateful for helps increase gratitude. The more you do this daily practice, the more you’ll find it’s easier to pinpoint what you love in your life.
Some ideas to get you started:
- List why you love your military community
- Think about the places you’ve been
- Write about the friends you have around the world
- Reflect on holidays where everyone was together
- Write about your military child
- Consider your military benefits
- Your best homecoming memories
Research shows consistent gratitude journaling can increase optimism 5% to 15% in some cases! Whenever you decide to journal, consider the best time of day where you’re least distracted and able to concentrate and relax.
Say “Thank You” Often
Recognize how much other people in your life do, even the little things that you might take for granted. Don’t let distractions keep you from remembering how to show thanks to others for what they do.
Remember to give thanks when:
- Someone holds open a door
- Your family gets together
- Your child/spouse/friend/family member does something thoughtful
- You see the clerks at the store or commissary
- A postal worker ships your latest care package
If you look for the opportunities, there are a million ways to give thanks to others in your life. It can be as simple as writing a positive letter thanking someone for their contribution to your life.
Actively Look for the Positive
Be thoughtful and diligent when you try to find the positive in every day. Upon waking up, start your day with a can-do positive attitude. See where it takes you.
A few ways to be proactive:
- Skip negativity – Avoid negative movies, stories, and limit the news. This can help you instead look for other happy, positive events to be grateful for.
- Shower people with sincerity – Look for traits or accomplishments to compliment friends and family about. Share with them why you’re proud of what they’ve been doing.
- Set a challenge for yourself – Commit to one day a week without complaining; it’s harder than it sounds, but you can do it!
- Do the 1:1 reset – When negative thoughts come, immediately try to find a related positive thought to replace it.
- Laugh daily – You know laughter is the best medicine, especially when you’re feeling down and out. Reach out to that friend who always makes you laugh.
- Support friends when their spouse is deployed – Helping them be positive helps you, too. Distract them and let them be your shoulder to cry on, if needed.
When you skip over the negative aspects of life, it’s easier to focus on the positive experiences instead. Think of the happiest people you know and watch how they show gratitude in their own lives.
Recognize and Celebrate You
Military spouses are unique in that they have incredible experiences that shape their perspectives. Be grateful for everything you are and everything you’ve experienced as a military spouse.
A few ways to be grateful for your milspouse life:
- Recognize military life is rewarding– This makes people find an inner strength and resiliency they didn’t know they had. You totally have this as a milspouse when many others don’t.
- Independence is your thing – You’re able to handle emergencies when they arise and face those moments head on.
- Life is adventurous – The military is always throwing new experiences your way. Remember how you don’t allow yourself to feel stuck and afraid to try new things — whether that’s moving or making new friends.
- Support your family and military village – Be ready to help others just like they are ready to help you. It can take your mind off of your worries when you are grateful to spend time helping others.
- Remember your patriotic duty – You’re a part of a mission greater than yourself. Think of how your positive role supports our country by supporting service members, including yours.
As a military spouse, you have so much to be grateful for that others don’t get to experience. Solid healthcare insurance, traveling adventures, built-in spouse support systems…the list goes on. Think about why you’re grateful to be a spouse today and write it down!
Will You Let the Benefits of Gratitude Into Your Life?
It’s easy to make a list of all the negative aspects of life.
But what if you could make it just as easy to look at the positive areas?
This week, take the time to sit and think about your military spouse life. Reflect on the many ways it’s changed your life. Take the time to process it and see if you can pinpoint changes you’re super thankful for.
Once you start a gratitude practice, it can be hard to stop. And when you start seeing the benefits of gratitude, it’ll be that much easier to keep a daily thankful tally.
Are you ready to give thanks?
What are you most grateful for as a military spouse? Do you practice gratitude every day? If so, please share your experience in the comments below!
Feature image Courtesy of DVIDS