In an attempt to make 2014 one of my happiest years ever, I’ve committed to a daily gratitude practice. For me, this means reflecting on my day and writing down one thing that I am thankful for in my new five-year line-a-day journal.
I’ve heard so many things about how implementing a daily gratitude practice can vastly improve the quality of one’s life. This article on MSN from Harvard Health Publications says that the practice can help people “feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Aditionally, the article also sites a study out of UC Davis in which participants we’re asked to write several sentences a week for 10 weeks on various topics. The study found that those participants who were asked to write about gratitude “were more optimistic and felt better about their lives… than those who focused on sources of aggravation.” Those same participants “also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians.” Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Looks like this daily practice might make you happier AND healthier.
While there are many other ways to implement this practice, read on for a simple way to start a daily gratitude journal of your own!
- Find a time when you can sit for 5-10 minutes distraction-free. Sit somewhere quiet and comfortable. For a few minutes focus on your breathing and try to clear your mind. Listen to the sounds around you, feel how your body exists in the space, let thoughts flow freely in and out of consciousness.
- Reflect on your day. Pull out any moments where you felt happy, when someone helped you, when you felt connected to the world around you. Mentally thank those who affected you as well as the experience in general (or the Lord if you are spiritual).
- Focus on one memory and write it down. Pick a specific happening from your day and write it in your journal. Why are you thankful for that experience or that person? It can be one sentence, five sentences, or even just a mental exercise! The act of simply feeling gratitude can have a profound effect on your life.
While there are many ways to start a gratitude practice, a journal can serve as a great reminder of all the good things life has to offer when times get rough.