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A Simple Mindfulness Practice: Keep a Gratitude Journal

There is no wrong way to keep a gratitude journal – it is personal to you, but here are some general instructions as you get started: -

Write down up to 5 things for which you feel grateful. The physical record is important – don’t just do this exercise in your head. The things you list can be relatively small in importance (“The tasty sandwich I had for lunch today”) or relatively large (“My sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy”). The goal of the exercise is to remember a good event, experience, person or thing in your life – then enjoy the good emotions that come with it.
As you write here are 9 important tips:
  1. Be as specific as possible – specificity is key to fostering gratitude. “I am grateful that my work colleagues sent me flowers when I was sick on Tuesday” will be more effective than “I am grateful for my work colleagues”.

  2. Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular person or thing for which you are grateful carries more benefit than a superficial list of many things.

  3. Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 savour the gifts you’ve received.

  6. 6. Savour surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.

  7. Revise if you repeat. Writing about some of the same people and things is OK but zero in on a different aspect in the detail.

  8. Write regularly. Whether you write every other day or once a week, commit to a regular time to journal, and then honour that commitment. But……

  9. Don’t overdo it. Evidence suggests writing occasionally (1-3 times a 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 savour surprises.

There are lots more things that we can try to help us feel better and it is best to look at a few different approaches to well being until you find what works for you. If you come along to DWELL we practice some of these techniques.

The links below offer more advice and there are also some good apps shown in our apps section too.

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