Goodness Gracious

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The best time to start a gratitude journal is now.

Why? Because people frequently worry about things they do not have or things that have not happened. Consequently, they rarely consider the beneficial things they do have and good things that did happen. If the simplest negative thought can promote a mood change, then why can’t a grateful positive thought do so as well?

Gratitude is an important mechanism in well-being and optimism, but it can also serve as a coping mechanism. Keeping a gratitude journal is an exercise that can help develop a greater appreciation for the good in life. Like most interventions, journaling is more effective if you first make a conscious decision to be happier and more grateful.

How to Do It

  • Quality not quantity – Our minds respond better to quality over quantity. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you are grateful carries more benefits than a lengthy list of things for which you are grateful. An effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than tallying up all those good things. Be specific about being without those blessings.
  • Get personal – Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has greater impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful. Avoid repeating the same things. This will be more challenging as time goes on; however, that is how your awareness and thankfulness will grow. You will be challenging yourself to find new things to be thankful for that perhaps you never noticed before.
  • Re-frame negatives – Life is balanced by negatives and positives. Your focus on a situation will shape your attitude. Transform your thoughts by finding the positive side of negative situations instead of dwelling on things that are not working out. This will help you learn to focus on the positive in even the most difficult situations.

Despite its difficulty as an unnatural act initially, keeping a gratitude journal and learning to focus on the positive in every situation will help cultivate a greater sense of happiness and optimism about your life. Happiness is the greatest benefit of gratitude. It is the goal that we all are seeking to achieve. Most of our choices in life are made with the aim of eventual happiness.

The good news about gratitude is that it gets easier with practice, and the perfect way to practice is to begin a gratitude journal. Try it. You may like it. Start now.


Image: Clare Griffiths on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

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