Writing in a gratitude journal is an excellent way to cultivate gratitude. And, according to Positive Psychology pioneer Christopher Peterson, the most effective way to cultivate gratitude using a gratitude journal is to write down three things that you're grateful for at the end of each day. This is effective for several reasons. First, sticking to three things keeps the activity brief and manageable, and allows you to really dwell on each of the three. (More, and you start to appreciate each item a little less; fewer, and you are experiencing less gratitude.) Also, writing your items at the end of the day allows you to write about things that have happened (as opposed to things that you hope will happen) that day, thus really valuing what you have in your life. Additionally, the end-of-the-day reflection allows you to consciously think about gratitude throughout the day as you informally decide what you will write about that evening; it keeps the feeling of gratitude more present in your mind. This simple system has been shown to bring a greater level of gratitude to people's lives.
But 'simple' isn't always easy.
Sometimes it's a challenge to form new, regular habits, especially when you have a busy, stressful life. Remembering to do simple things can be easier said than done, but it can often help if you have the support of another person or group of people. This way, you feed off the momentum of the group, and knowing that you're engaging in somewhat of a group activity can keep you wanting to be involved so you don't 'disappoint' others.
That's why I'm starting a Gratitude Group on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on this site. Each night, I'm going to be tweeting three things I'm grateful for from that day (to see my tweets, follow me on Twitter--my username is ElizabethScott), and I invite you to do the same. (If you put "@ElizabethScott" somewhere in the tweets, I can see them--as can other readers--which gives this activity a 'group activity' feel.) I'm also starting a Facebook group that will work on cultivating gratitude and tackle other stress management topics. This will come in a few days; I'll keep you posted on this blog.
All of this is designed to help you take your stress management efforts a little further, with as little effort as possible. Low effort, high reward--isn't that what we're all looking for right now?
You can also put what you're grateful in the comments section below, or in my Stress Management Forum. Sharing those things in life that we appreciate can help make gratitude contagious, which gives us even more to appreciate!
Source: Seligman ME, Steen TA, Park N, Peterson C. Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. The American Psychologist July-August, 2005. Like this post? Want to use it to start a discussion with your friends? Pass it on!
Like this post? Want to use it to start a discussion with your friends? Pass it on!