Have you tried to keep a gratitude journal?
A gratitude journal is just like it sounds – a journal you keep of things you are grateful for.
I would like to challenge you to try this for a week. I think you will find that by doing this for a week you will notice a change in your overall happiness. If so, then I would ask you to continue to do this daily exercise for as long as it is helpful to you.
Here is the exercise:
Everynight set aside 10 minutes to write down three good things that happened to you that day. They might be small things, they might be big things, and anything in between. Then, also write down WHY you think this good thing happened. Don’t just write it down and forget it. Reflect on them. Be grateful for that event. Think about how nice it was for this good thing to have happened. Be grateful for it and be hopeful for more things like that to happen.
When you think about WHY it happened, maybe you had more control over it than you think? Maybe it happened spontaneously? You will have to look at each one to see if you had any sort of control over why it happened.For example: If you smile at someone, they are likely to smile back. You made that happen.
Practicing gratitude leads to better psychological health. By practicing gratitude, your mind has to focus on the good things that happened that day. It is very easy for us to focus on the negative – we do it almost automatically. But by taking the time to focus on the positive, it forces our brains to get out of that negative mindset, if only for a few minutes, and find the positive. Over time, by doing this on a daily basis, it becomes easier and easier to be positive. This positive mindset helps up to be happier and therefore more mentally healthy.
People who practice being grateful on a daily basis then to have more empathy towards others, have less aggression, get better sleep, and even have better self-esteem. Grateful people are less likely to compare themselves to others. Rather than be jealous of someone else’s good fortune, they are able to appreciate the accomplishments of others without being resentful.
All of this adds up to grateful people having stronger mental health and better satisfaction with their lives. Developing a “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways of improving your sense of satisfaction with what you have, and improves your behavior with the world around you.
Why does this work?
Martin Seligman, Ph.D is psychologist who is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Positive Psychology”. He says “For sound evolutionary reasons, most of us are not nearly as good at dwelling on good events as we are at analyzing bad events. Those of our ancestors who spent a lot of time basking in the sunshine of good events, when they should have been preparing for disaster, did not survive the Ice Age. So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.”