Recently I’ve been thinking more seriously about gratitude. I’ve learnt quite a lot about it over the last couple of years in the many positive psychology and happiness books I’ve read. To summerise the findings in the recent research: people who habitualise gratitude into their lives on a daily or weekly basis are generally happier than those who don’t.
Quite a simple idea, you would think. But introducing new habits and changing already established habits is often a difficult thing to do. And I’ve found it the case with gratitude. I have not one, but two gratitude diaries and I have not one but two apps on my phone for counting my blessings. But do I do it every day, or even every week? No. I’ll do it for a few days, then let it slide, then a few more days and then forget for a couple of months. I need to find an easier, more memorable way of making this a habit. Because I have no doubt that it works, I can feel it works when I do stick to it. This is because when you focus on the positive things in your life, you feel more positive. When you focus on the negative things, guess what, the negative things take over. But it is important not to treat this as a ‘positive thinking’ exercise, repeating affirmations and mantras that you hope will make you happier. You have to really feel and experience the gratitude and appreciation in your heart. Varying what you are grateful for each day helps this too.
So what am I going to do about this gratitude habit? Well, as a fan of her Happiness Project, I read one of Gretchen Rubin’s recent posts entitled ‘The One-Sentence Journal’. She admits she is not a natural diary writer and so has come up with this idea to help her collect her happy memories. I’m going to join her, and started my own a couple of weeks ago. It is easier to stick to a new habit if it doesn’t take much time to do. Nobody can say they don’t have time to write one sentence and revisit those happy memories and emotions. Why don’t you give it a try?