Imagine how it would feel starting every day in 2018 in a positive mood, energized, and ready to take on the world. Instead of mentally replaying all your life’s problems and pulling the covers over your head, you chose to take control of your mind and focus on the good.
Beyond taking care of the physical by eating healthy food that makes you feel better (and tastes great!), life is about mental mastery - taking control of the thought loops that dictate your daily happiness.
As science has shown, you are more likely to remember bad events than good ones. It is called the negativity bias. If someone compliments your new haircut or outfit, you will likely not remember it beyond the moment in question. If someone disses your style, however, you will likely remember it forever.
In other words, heartbreak stings more than the passion of a new relationship. The disappointment of losing £50 last longer than excitement of sticking your hand into your pocket one morning and finding that same £50. It is often easier to list the negative qualities of a colleague than think of their assets.
To automatically appreciate and not criticize we have learned you have to consciously work to shine the light on the good. You have to start practicing gratitude.
This is where a Gratitude Journal comes in to save the day.
What exactly is a Gratitude Journal?
On a very basic level, gratitude journaling involves writing about things for which you are grateful.
On a deeper level, gratitude journaling helps unwire any negative patterns you may have. By keeping a journal, you develop a practice that keeps you accountable to getting the results you want while developing appreciation and enjoying happier days.
Many people struggle with writing things down and figure they can just think good thoughts and that will do the trick. Not.
Translating thoughts into concrete language—whether oral or written—has advantages over just thinking the thoughts: It makes you more aware, deepening the emotional impact.
A 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that keeping a daily Gratitude Journal leads to an increased sense of wellbeing and, something we all crave, better sleep. A willingness to accept change will become the norm. Giving thanks in this manner can also help lower symptoms of physical pain. That is powerful.
Writing a Gratitude Journal will make being grateful as natural as breathing. It just happens without you realizing. It is like using a toothbrush, daily, for your mind.
How to Keep a Gratitude Journal
1. Use a notebook, word doc, or The Five Minute Journal.
2. We find the beginning and/or end of the day is the best time to write what you are grateful for. You set the tone for your day and/or end your day on a high note.
3. When writing what you are grateful for, get specific. Gratitude is all about the emotion and connection you have to what you write down. Saying you are “grateful for your mom’s cooking” rather than just “I am grateful for mom” is more likely to evoke positive feelings. 4. If you get stuck thinking of gratitudes, choose a category: relationships, something simple near you (clouds outside, pen you are holding, etc), an opportunity you had today, something great that happened or you saw yesterday. Or you can always use this video
As anyone who has set a New Year’s resolution can attest, starting new habits are much easier than sticking with them for years.
In the book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by author Jon Acuff, University of Memphis Ph.D. candidate Mike Peasley studied nearly 900 participants in Acuff's goal-reaching video course over a six-month period and found that those who cut their goal in half increased their performance from past similar goal-related challenges on average by over 63 percent.
While writing a gratitude journal works great as a daily practice, start with 3 days this week writing ONE thing you are grateful for. That’s it. Start small and build.
Here is to making 2018 the year you focus on the good.