How to Actually Cultivate Gratitude and Joy—And Why You Might Want to Try

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Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s interim editor in chief and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about the very difficult but necessary task of trying to feel better right now, along with how gratitude and joy can help with that process.

Our listener question this week comes from Jenna, who has the incredibly relatable feeling that the world is, well, a terrible place in so many ways. There’s a vicious pandemic and relentless instances of racist violence, not to mention anything that might be going on in your personal or work life (which current events can also obviously impact). So, with that in mind, it’s hard to know how to go about feeling even a little bit better. 

Ideally, our country would have a network of affordable, accessible mental health care aimed at helping us all cope. That kind of care should be available to us all—and I mean really available, not just theoretically. But even if you do have an excellent, affordable therapist, you might understandably feel pretty awful about the state of things right now. And while I certainly can’t promise that gratitude and joy will “fix” anything, they do help a lot of people feel at least a little bit better. 

To explore how such seemingly simple feelings can support our mental health, for this Checking In episode, I first chat with Mariel Buqué, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, holistic mental health practitioner, and sound-bath meditation healer. Dr. Buqué sings the praises of cultivating gratitude and looking for joyful moments for better mental health, and also offers up some concrete strategies for actually doing this in your day-to-day life. Then I speak with actor and mental health advocate Kristen Bell, who is also SELF’s May digital cover star. Bell happens to be a big fan of gratitude and finding contentment in quiet moments. In this episode, Bell discusses how seeking out this kind of peace has helped her anxiety and depression; how her husband, Dax Shepard, helps her look out for her mental well-being; and more.

New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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You can follow Kristen Bell on Instagram @kristenanniebell and on Twitter @KristenBell. And here’s SELF’s May digital cover, featuring Bell discussing mental health, parenting in a pandemic, exactly why she’s still so in love with Dax, and beyond.

You May Also Like: 

The Healing Powers of Gratitude

4 Small Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day

Please Celebrate Yourself—Even During a Pandemic

Black Joy Isn’t Frivolous—It’s Necessary

In Praise of Black People Laughing

What Is Resilience, and Can It Help Us Bounce Back From This?

13 Small but Impactful Ways to Cultivate Resilience

7 Ways to Find an Actually Affordable Therapist

10 Online Support Groups for Anyone Who’s Struggling Right Now

41 Mental Health Apps That Will Make Life a Little Easier

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