The November challenge >>>
Keep a daily gratitude journal!
Take a few minutes to record, in a real, written journal, the good things which happen each day...
Tell me more...
Practicing gratitude is really good for us. Scientific studies suggest it can help us deal with stress and even have a positive effect of our bodies. However, our brains are hard wired to notice the negative, to see the potential threats all around us. We also tend to adapt to the good things in life, seeing them as good for only a short amount of time... hence our need to get the next iphone/car/promotion. These may be some of the reasons as a society we are experiencing increasing levels of psychological distress.
In order to shift this natural focus on the negative and adapting to the good we need to practice recognising the positive. Making a new habit to notice and savour the positive things in our daily lives can have a huge impact on us as individuals and our relationships.
Research has shown that simply recognising three good things every day for one week can significantly increase happiness and decrease depression (and that this finding not only lasted but even became more significant after 6 months).
Furthermore, journalling and expressive writing in general has been shown to have physical and psychological benefits. Taking time to step out of automatic pilot, reviewing our day, our reactions, our feelings, noting down our anxieties rather than avoiding or denying them. Taking time to express ourselves in an unguarded way, to reflect, can bring increased awareness and wisdom.
Expressing ourselves can take many forms and sketching, drawing or doodling could also be part of this months challenge.
Start by buying or making a small notebook or journal to use for the month.
- Recognise: At the end of each day note down three good things that happened. These could be things that went well, things you enjoyed or things you were grateful for. They can be small or big things. (Someone giving you their seat on the train, a colleague making you a cup of tea, getting a new job or watching the sun set.)
- Elaborate: As well as noting what the actual event was, take some time to elaborate on it, savouring the goodness. Perhaps writing down why it happened, what it was about this event that felt good, how it felt in your mind and body, how you responded, and what it means about you.
- Reflect: At the end of each week look back over the things you have noted down, notice how it feels or any themes that start emerging.
Take it a bit further...
Journalling: If you want to extend your self this month, why not try spending a bit longer each day journalling. This might be akin to writing a diary, noting the events of the day, and how you felt about them. Perhaps taking 10 to 20 minutes each day.
Some tips for journalling:
- Be honest
- Express rather than compose or judge
- Write it for you (and ensure privacy)
- Write alone
- Write at a similar time each day
- Use it as a tool for emotional expression and reflection
Get creative: Or how about drawing a small sketch that summarises something or someone in your day. Or doodling for a few moments at the end of each entry in your journal.