Over the past week, I began a gratitude journal. I have so many people, place and things to be grateful for in my life but I found myself stumped. It felt a little hopeless to struggle with it so I set the pen and paper aside for a moment and I just thought about my day. What I did, who I say and what I felt. Then a few things started to come to mind then like a flood they all came at once. It honestly left me a bit teary to think about what I have in my life. Grab a notebook and a pen and follow these few steps to get your gratitude on.
-Be as specific in what you are grateful—specificity is key to fostering gratitude. “I’m grateful that my co-workers brought me soup when I was sick on Tuesday” will be more effective than “I’m grateful for my co-workers.”
-Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular person or thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
-Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
-Try subtraction, not just addition. Consider what your life would be like without certain people or things, rather than just tallying up all the good stuff. Be grateful for the negative outcomes you avoided, escaped, prevented, or turned into something positive—try not to take that good fortune for granted.
-See good things as “gifts.” Thinking of the good things in your life as gifts guards against taking them for granted. Try to relish and savor the gifts you’ve received.
-Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
-Revise if you repeat. Writing about some of the same people and things is OK, but zero in on a different aspect in detail.
-Write regularly. Whether you write every other day or once a week, commit to a regular time to journal, then honor that commitment. But…
-Don’t overdo it. Evidence suggests writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. That might be because we adapt to positive events and can soon become numb to them—that’s why it helps to savor surprises.