When we started [The Gratitude Journal] newsletter a year ago, we had no idea that more than 125,000 people would subscribe and contribute to the conversation around gratitude. We are truly grateful for your support.
As the year wraps up and we look to 2022, may I suggest a New Year’s resolution?
Unlike exercise, losing weight, or spending less money, this resolution doesn’t have to be onerous. You don’t even have to write in a gratitude journal every day—three times a week is plenty. But if you commit to doing it all year, I promise you’ll find it’s a wonderful way to keep the bad news of the world at bay and can replace negativity with positive reminders of all that you have to be grateful for.
Two years ago, Dr. Laurie Santos, professor of psychology at Yale, began teaching a class on happiness that has become the school’s most popular class ever. Santos says we need to retrain our brains, which often are lying to us about what really makes us happy. “Most people assume that more money would make them happier,” she says. When researchers ask what salary would make them content, she says respondents (no matter their income level) say they’d need more.
“The goal gets further away as you get more money,” she adds. “The more materialistic you get, the less happy you become.”
What is the answer? “Make time for gratitude,” advises Santos, who asks her students to keep a gratitude journal. Jotting down a few things they are grateful for daily dramatically improves their well-being, as does expressing it to others. For homework, she even assigns a gratitude visit: Write a letter of gratitude and deliver it in person.
Studies have found that giving such thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships. Another study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2019, found that keeping a gratitude journal helped teens and young adults to establish healthier eating habits. How great is that?
Here are 5 more reasons to keep a gratitude journal from Yoni Cohen, editor of Goodnet.
- It increases productivity. Writing down what you are thankful for can make you more optimistic because you are choosing to see more of the positivity in your life and give less power to negative emotions. While positive aspects of your life may be floating around in your subconscious, writing them down makes them more concrete and real.
- It improves self-esteem. Keeping a journal is a very personal activity and allows you to be present with your own achievements. Showing gratitude has been proven to reduce social comparisons and you are less likely to be resentful towards others.
- It helps you sleep better. Spending just 15 minutes before bed writing down a few grateful sentiments can help you have a much better night’s sleep. By thinking of the positive experiences of the day, you are much less likely to ponder over your worries and therefore clear your mind for a good night’s sleep.
- It makes you happier. Showing gratitude means you are acknowledging the goodness in your life and by writing these things down you are able to feel more positive emotions and relish good experiences. Researchers have found that people who write about gratitude are more optimistic and feel better about their lives in general.
- It reduces stress. Scientists have found that focusing on feelings of contentment and satisfaction naturally counters stress and leaves you feeling much more grounded and able to deal with whatever life throws at you.
If you want more ideas, the bestselling book Leading With Gratitude provides practical ways to show how gratitude can attract more gratitude, and that is it the best way to lead at work and live your life.
So, I hope you will accept the challenge to keep a gratitude journal in 2022. I assure you it will make your life better at home and at work.
See you all next year. I am always grateful for you.
Love and gratitude,