Do you want to be happier in 2017? Try being thankful—and put it in writing.
I like being around happy people. By “happy people,” I mean the kind of people who are nice, optimistic, encouraging, self-aware, and focused on something bigger than themselves. It just feels good to be around happy people.
However, life happens—and that means we have to go through hard stuff from time to time: Death, sickness, failed relationships, and financial hardships to name a few. And that hard stuff can make it difficult to be happy all the time. But I’ve noticed that happy people often have a way of rebounding from hard times faster than others. They seem to have a certain perspective that allows them to find happiness when it seems elusive to others.
Why is that? What attribute do happy people seem to possess in more abundance than others?
I’m convinced that it’s pretty straight-forward. I believe that happy people are simply more thankful than unhappy people. I don’t think happy people have more reasons to be thankful; I just think they remember to be thankful. And there is no better way to remember something than to write it down.
Gratitude Journaling Benefits Mind and Body
I’m a big fan of gratitude journaling. It’s been a huge help to me, personally. I highly recommend giving gratitude a voice, your voice, as often as you can—and I recently suggested at a company meeting that everyone at CampusLogic give it a try.
Research shows that regular expressions of gratefulness bring a wide range of benefits, including improved emotional and academic intelligence, strengthened heart and immune system, and decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches—just to name a few incredible side effects.
The key is not beat yourself up with the rigor of a daily exercise. You don’t need that right now—as you try to stick to all those other New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, just draft little moments of thanks from time to time. An article in the New York Times Magazine last year reported that scientists believe the more practice you give your brain at expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mindset—like a “muscle” that can be exercised and strengthened—and have profound, long-lasting neural effects even when your journaling might have lapsed for a few weeks.
5 Easy Tips for Gratitude Journaling
Here are a few more tips to help you get started. I’ve adapted these from an online article by thnx4.org:
- Make a conscious effort to be happier and more grateful. Remember that “conscious effort” you’re making to skip dessert this month? Gratitude journaling is way easier.
- Savor the details. In other words, “I’m grateful for sunny days” is not deep enough. Think about why you’re grateful; why was today’s sunny day so noteworthy?
- Count your blessings, but don’t make a list. It’s not about quantity; this isn’t a competition.
- Remark on the day’s little surprises. Unexpected happy moments are said to elicit even stronger levels of gratitude.
- Focus on the people, not just the things for which you are thankful. It’s more impactful to your overall feeling of wellbeing—when you’re around those people again.
You don’t have to buy an expensive artists’ journal; you don’t even need pen and paper if you prefer the thoughtful click-clacking of your keyboard. Just digitally jot down your gratitude on a public site like thnx4.org. Or, simply email yourself—and keep your messages in a folder in your email account to help you remember what made you grateful last month before your latest (work, home, personal) crisis occurred.
This business—launching and growing CampusLogic—is exciting; fun and full of daily challenges. I welcome almost all those challenges. But sometimes, no matter how positive a persona I have down deep, there’s stuff that just gets to me. I get stuck, frustrated; even negative. That’s when I know it’s time to pull out my gratitude journal and refocus my energy and insights onto all the good, really good, things that happen.
It doesn’t take long before my thankful thoughts far outweigh any inner turmoil and I can get back to being productive, positive, and healthy.
Here’s to a productive, positive, and healthy 2017 for you, too, my friends. Stay grateful.