Different women improve their body image and self-confidence in different ways; one effective method is positive thinking or an “attitude of gratitude.” Gratitude therapy, a component of positive psychology, goes further than making life more enjoyable and positive. Gratitude therapy can include positive affirmations, which can increase self-acceptance. Here’s my experience as a participant in a gratitude therapy experiment, plus tips on how being grateful can improve body image.
But first, here’s a quip from Sarah Ban Breathnach:
“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities,” writes Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy. “It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we shall tend. The invisible underbrush holding us back is our own thoughts.”
Are you living in abundance or lack? Self-disgust or self-acceptance? You can be happier and more accepting of your body — you just need to practice thinking positively about your life. If you don’t use a gratitude journal, try writing in one every morning and evening. And, check out how you can improve your body confidence with an “attitude of gratitude.”
How Positive Thinking Improves Body Image
Positive psychology is a relatively new field, in which scientists study traits that make people thrive and focus on how being positive affects everyday life and health. “Positivity” can improve your immune system, increase your life span, increase feelings of well-being, and even reverse certain psychological struggles such as anxiety and depression. This isn’t news to psychology researchers or regular North Americans; we’ve already more or less accepted the idea that being positive is good and helpful!
Cultivating your attitude of gratitude is enthusiastically supported by various celebrities and authors (think Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Ban Breathnach). These women encourage activities such as writing in a Gratitude Journal every day, regularly listing all the things for which you’re thankful, forgiving others, and practicing “random acts of kindness.” And, therein lies the key to how positive thinking improves body image.
Gratitude therapy formalizes these activities in an attempt to improve how you think of your life – or, in this case, your body image. The theory is that you’ll improve your body image if you deliberately focus on the positive aspects of your life through positive affirmations or simple gratitude for the little things in life. On the other hand, traditional therapy focuses on fixing what’s wrong in your life, or dealing with negative thoughts and behaviors such as telling yourself “I’m fat and my varicose veins are so ugly.”
My Participation in a Gratitude Therapy Study
When I participated in a gratitude therapy study, I sat and thought about six positive things in my life for three days, five minutes each time. The idea was that I’d unconsciously feel more positive about my body and improve my body confidence if I’m immersed in good thoughts about my life. And, if I improve my body image, I’ll have fewer feelings of anxiety, more mental energy for valuable activities, and more freedom to do things I want.
In this study, I enjoyed focusing on six positive things a day – and it could be the same six, a different six, or a combination of sixes. I definitely felt happier, more cheerful, and more optimistic during my participation in the study. It didn’t take long for it to become habitual, this “positivism.” It’s fun, and it gets easier to think of and marvel about the good things in life.
Did Gratitude Therapy or Positive Thinking Improve My Body Image?
I don’t think positive thinking improved my body image, but I believe I needed to give it more time. I still feel self-conscious in my bikini, and when my hubby pops his head in when I’m taking a shower I still hope my belly isn’t sticking out too far.
This doesn’t mean gratitude therapy isn’t effective! My results could be indicative of my own personal issues, such as my everlasting fear of gaining ten pounds if I catch a glimpse of a chocolate truffle. Body image is affected by so many factors: the media, genetics, childhood and adult experiences, self-esteem, family, peers, and personality. It may be overly simplistic to expect to overcome those influences by thinking positively; but what doesn’t work for me may work wonders for the next person – or the next hundred people.
That said – with a daily hit of gratitude therapy, you can’t miss! Long-term positive thinking can improve body image. Gratitude journals and positive affirmations can offer greater feelings of happiness, more satisfaction with your life, and perhaps even some resolution with the “meaning of life” question. With a little positivity, your body image may improve and you could feel completely comfortable playing beach volleyball in a swimsuit or Speedo!
Do you think your body image would improve with positive thinking or gratitude therapy? I welcome your comments below…