Hello! We are writing you from NYC where we just presented a sold-out workshop on Positive Psychology and the Creative Arts Therapies with psychodramatist Daniel Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP at the Expressive Therapies Summit. We had attendees from as far as Ghana, the Netherlands, and Taiwan. Closer to home, we had someone from the New Jersey Coast whose apartment had been flooded by Hurricane Sandy and whose neighborhood had just been hit again by the snow storm but who was determined to make it to the workshop despite these setbacks.
In the company of these amazing therapists, whose work often exposes them to ongoing tragedy and trauma, we were inspired by their passion and commitment. We were reminded that in the face of adversity, whether because of natural disaster or because of chronic emotional or social challenges, people are inherently resilient and moved to help each other.
One of our passions is to support people on the frontlines who may be vulnerable to fatigue and burnout. We know that research shows stress and burnout lead to compromised health, poor work performance, and significantly reduced quality of life. As practitioners, we want to manage and reduce stress, but we also want to transform it, so that we are not just bouncing back from hardship but bouncing forward into feeling energized and invigorated.
One way to do so is by “attending to the good”–identifying and amplifying what is working in our personal and professional lives and finding positive significance in the challenges we face.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal can help remind us of both small and large blessings. Gratitude is a way we can notice and appreciate the best in life, including the helpful actions of others. Research shows that people who experienced gratitude felt supported, were emotionally closer to others, and wanted to build the relationship with the person towards whom they felt gratitude (Algoe & Haidt, 2009; Algoe & Stanton, 2012). Such positive emotions help build our resiliency, so we bounce back quicker when times are tough.
A daily practice of gratitude journaling could look like this:
Write down or make art about three things that went well–blessings large (our family and friends) or small (a tasty cup of coffee)–three times a week. Write and/or make art about why these things were good, what about you or the situations made you able to appreciate them.
Share with us one of the large or small blessings that you are grateful for on our facebook page.