One of the best ways of keeping a happy, positive mindset is by maintaining a gratitude journal. The journal itself can be anything from a posh blank-paged book to a simple notebook; for those that are more digitally-minded, there are apps that can be downloaded such as Happy Tapper. The important thing is to keep it nearby as a way of jotting down the people, things, and experiences for which you are grateful.
There have been a great deal of research that shows when people are actively engaged in giving thanks for the good and positive things in their lives, that they in turn reap additional benefits ranging from physical, psychological, and social aspects
While it doesn't matter if you prefer pen, pencil, posh diary, or a Big Chief pad, there are some general pointers to help you get the most out of your gratitude journal to enhance the positive side effects:
- Write weekly -- but not daily. Noted psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky found that journaling weekly had a more pronounced impact on the happiness levels for participants.
- Get detailed! A simple item list won't cut it; you need to get into details about the 5 w's (who / what / when / where / why) that made the experience one that was memorable and for which you were grateful.
- Surprises! Research has shown that the unexpected and positive events leave us feeling more grateful.
- What would you miss? When those days come that it is hard to conjure up what you feel thankful for, try envisioning your life without that certain someone or thing; use this as inspiration to get your juices flowing.
- Slow and steady. Gratitude expert (yes, there is such a thing!) Robert Emmons has suggested that by thinking and meditating on each item in your journal, it becomes a gift. He encourages people to "Be aware of your feelings and how you 'relish' and 'savor' this gift in your imagination."
Each day, during a quiet time, consider all the wonderful things you have to be grateful for and really experience the feelings of that happy memory and why you are appreciative for it.