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3 ways to use gratitude against pain

8 min. reading time

In my last blog you could read briefly about gratitude. Researchers have found that a feeling of gratitude is the most positive feeling people can have! When we experience pain, we see that the brain creates many negative feelings.

This is very interesting because our brain can only have one feeling at a time! So you can't experience gratitude and negative feelings at the same time. 

We also know that feelings can be "trained." This is unfortunately the case with chronic pain, which makes your brain get better and better at producing pain. The good news is that this can be reversed. By getting better at feeling gratitude, you can make the pain networks in your brain less active.

But, how do you train gratitude? Fortunately, there are several effective techniques for doing so! Some of them are listed below. With many of the exercises, it may take some getting used to the first time you do an exercise. Don't expect instant success, practice makes perfect.

3 exercises to train gratitude

1. Visualization 1
The first visualization exercise looks like this. Think of one of your favorite events in your life. You can make a list, which makes it easy if you do the exercise often. Sit back and close your eyes. Then go back to that event in your mind. Slowly replay the event in your mind and try to enjoy what you are thinking about as much as possible. Say "Thank you" to yourself, or even out loud to yourself, or "I'm grateful for..." if it's appropriate for your memory. The latter may feel a little crazy, but expressing gratitude works very well to reinforce the feeling.

2. Visualization 2
In this visualization exercise, you don't take memories into your mind, but people. Close your eyes and think of people you know and care about. Take them out one by one in your mind and say inside or out loud what you are grateful for these people. For example, "I am grateful for your support" or "Thank you for always listening to me." 

Tip: You may find, especially if you do the exercise a little longer, that you start thinking about people who are less close to you. You may even think of someone you don't like at all! Then challenge yourself by thinking of something for them that you are grateful for, even if it is just a small thing.

3. Diary
A proven effective way to experience more positive feelings in your life is to keep a positive journal. Each morning, write down three things you are grateful for and how you will make the most of the day. At the end of the day, write down three things that made your day the most enjoyable and how you can make it even better tomorrow. The journal app can help you with this, too.

Enough ways to work on positive feelings and make the pain networks in your brain less active! Remember, as always, it may take a while for the exercises to have an impact on your life. The benefit of the above exercises is that you often experience positive feelings immediately when you do them!

3 ways to use gratitude against pain