Una's Blog


Happiness 5. Gratitude

by Una Hearne.

Keeping a gratitude journal is another of these deceptively simple practices which can have real and profound effects in your life.

I’ve written and spoken many times about the importance of refocusing our attention from the negative to the positive. This is so that we balance our natural negative bias and also so that we focus our attention and effort on what we want to create in our lives, and not on what we don’t want.

Our thinking is mostly automatic. Awareness of what we are thinking and the ability to refocus, is a highly rewarding life skill worth developing. A gratitude journal is one practical way of developing this skill which makes the adjustment in our thinking easy to achieve over time.

The idea is to get yourself a notebook and pen (or technological equivalent) and pick a time of the day that will work for you to take a few minutes out for yourself. Record at least three good things you noticed that day (or yesterday if you do it in the morning, or that week if you don’t have time to do it daily). I recommend daily. It can be anything – big or small, shared or personal to you. Maybe you did something you are proud of, maybe you shared a smile or a laugh with someone, a tender moment, something you learned, something delicious you ate, anything that made you feel good or happy. No need to make anything up, this is recording reality not pretending. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to do it on a bad day and that’s ok too, try again tomorrow.

I find with this practice that, over time, the list lengthens. It’s like noticing the good things programmes your brain to notice more good things. It’s amazing the number of great things that happen every day and you are not normally conscious of. You begin to appreciate that it  is the little things that matter. Or rather, that the little things really are the big things.

I want to make it clear that all of these positive thinking practices and tools are not cures for clinical depression, anxiety, or any kind of illness. Having said that, this type of practice cannot do any harm and can have a genuine and significant effect on your wellbeing.

A gratitude journal is an easy practical way to increase your level of happiness. It is particularly effective when you are going through tough times when it is most difficult to feel positive and optimistic. I speak from experience, a gratitude journal has helped me through some of the most stressful times of my life.

As ever, don’t take my word for this, try it out for yourself, I dare you.



Pic credit: pixel 2013. Found on pixabay

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