Happiness and Journaling Gratitude

June 17, 2013

Happiness studies have shown that you can increase your overall level of happiness by feeling more grateful.  It turns out there are ways to practice gratitude that are more effective than others.  Experts suggest that you keep a journal or some other concrete record of your gratefulness.  Here’s what they recommend:

  1. Make a conscious decision that you want to be happier.
  2. Write in your gratitude journal once or twice a week – more than that and you run the risk of becoming used to having positive events occur.
  3. Pick 2-3 items to write about.  Take the time to explore all the ways in which you are so grateful for them.  Really delve into it.  Perhaps consider what it adds to your life, how those benefits go beyond you, how it positively affects you and others in the short and long run, etc.
  4. Imagining your life without a certain person/thing/event can help you notice what it brings to your life.
  5. Focusing on people and unexpected surprises can be more meaningful than focusing on items.
  6. No repeats!  This forces you to be specific – instead of being thankful for your friend, you might focus on how thankful you are for the moment of laughter you shared that day, or the email they sent reaching out to you in a time of stress.  You’ll be amazed at how much gratitude you have for seemingly small things, without having realized it!