Wellness Strategy: Gratitude Journal

This article is part of the Wellness Strategies Series

Problem: Pessimistic Outlook
Strategy: Gratitude Journal

Establish the practice of gratitude by consciously reminding yourself of the positive experiences in your life. End each week by reflecting upon and visualizing its best parts. Recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary (e.g., waking up in the morning) as well as extraordinary (e.g., winning an award) events. Also reflect upon your personal attributes and the valued people in your life.

Method:

  • At the end of each week, record 5 things in your life for which you are most grateful.
  • Don’t hurry through this exercise as if it were just superficial list. Take time to reflect on the feelings associated with each item and elaborate on its significance.
  • Don’t just go through the motions; make a conscious decision to become happier and more grateful.
  • Research indicates that journaling once or twice per week is more beneficial than daily journaling.

Why it Works:

Counting one’s blessings is a mental strategy that has been shown in clinical studies to be positively related to subjective well-being and positive affect (the experience of positive emotion). When compared to control groups that focused on either daily hassles or social comparisons of themselves to others, individuals who focused on gratitude demonstrated less negativity, higher levels of optimism and life satisfaction, better sleep quality, and greater connectedness to others. The results of these studies suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may provide important emotional and interpersonal benefits.

Journal Ideas:

  • Purchase a basic ready-made diary or journal
  • Get crafty and make your own (e.g., DIY)
  • Create a Word document on your computer or notepad.
  • Create a digital journal with notes and photos (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Download a mobile phone app (Gratitude 365, Attitudes of Gratitude Journal)

To learn more about the impact of gratitude research, view “Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude,” a short video providing an overview of the gratitude project run by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley:

References:
Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377

Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46(2), 213–233. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2007.03.005

*Image: Prin Pattawaro

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