Depression feeds on negativity and grows stronger with each negative thought. When depressed, it is easy to fall into that vicious cycle of bad thoughts. Practicing gratitude stops that pattern and changes brain chemistry by releasing serotonin and dopamine. However, it can be difficult to find anything positive when depression sets in. Start with writing or verbalizing three things or people for whom you are grateful each day until it becomes a habit (experts suggest 21 consecutive days of practice to form a habit). Many find it helpful to write thank you letters, cards, e-mails to people who have helped you in the past. Whenever, I feel those negative thoughts building (what I don’t have, what is wrong, what I’ve lost, etc.) I stop and focus on what I do have (e.g., life, shelter, food, family, friends, pet, therapy, medication, books, music), what is right (I’m physically well), and what I’ve gained (empathy, perspective, knowledge, etc.) In time, my perspective shifts and my positivity attracts more good thoughts.
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