As we approach Thanksgiving, perhaps some of you are reflecting on things in your life you are grateful for. But did you know that this kind of reflection can lead to increased happiness? Research suggests that one simple technique can significantly increase your level of happiness: keeping a gratitude journal. The technique is very simple. Every day, before going to sleep, write down three things you are grateful for. The catch is that you cannot write the same thing twice.
The way a gratitude journal increases your happiness is that it forces you to pay attention to the positive aspects of your life. It changes the “lens” with which you perceive the world. You may notice that when you are in a grumpy or in a bad mood, you tend to really pay attention to the things in your day that go wrong. On top of that, your self-talk often increases your bad feelings “That jerk cut me off, why can’t people learn how to drive”… etc. Keeping a gratitude journal forces you to do the opposite. Because you always have to come up with three new things to write in your journal every day, you train yourself to pay attention to things you are grateful for. Because you pay attention to the positive aspects of your day, your mood automatically lifts and becomes more positive.
Perhaps this year, on Thanksgiving, you can start your own gratitude journal. Try it for a while, and see if it works. As for me, I am grateful to have this opportunity to communicate with you every week, my dear reader. I wish you and all the people you care about a wonderful Thanksgiving.