Better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and increased happiness are just a few of the impressive benefits that studies have traced to the simple act of writing down the things for which we are grateful. Research shows that translating thoughts into concrete language—whether oral or written—has advantages over just thinking the thoughts: it makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.
Keeping a gratitude journal is simple because there is no one “right way” to do it. Just keep in mind these research-based tips from UC Berkeley and you’ll be on the path to reaping the greatest rewards from the process:
- Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling.
- Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
- Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
- Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
It doesn’t matter what time of day that you write, the quality of your spelling and grammar, or how pretty your journal is. The most important thing is to establish the habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events.
…when will you begin?
Source: University of California at Berkeley: The Greater Good