Try Listing Your “Gratitudes” in Pursuit of Happiness

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Last week’s post noted that using what is known as “the happiness advantage” is a great way to improve both your personal and professional lives. One of the ways I mentioned to raise your level of happiness is to briefly note on a regular basis those things for which you are grateful. A helpful internet application (“app”) which allows you to record your “gratitudes” is Gratitude Journal 365.

I enjoy keeping a daily journal in which, among other things, I write down three things for which I am grateful. I suggest that one of your happiness-advantage techniques is to give it a try to do this at least three times a week. Simply write down three things for which you are appreciative. Don’t simply do this in your head. Write them down.

Start out simple with things like “my morning cup of coffee” or “the sound of rain on the roof,” then go on to bigger things like “my daughter gave birth to a healthy baby boy” or “I’ve paid off the credit card and cut it to pieces.” The goal of the exercise is to remember the good things in your life and savor the happiness that goes with them.

As your write, here are some important tips:

1. Be as specific as possible. Specificity is the key to fostering gratitude. “I am grateful that my husband cooked supper for us when I had to work late on Tuesday.”

2. Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular person, thing or event for which you are grateful carries more benefits than listing superficial things.

3. Get personal. Focus on people to whom you are grateful. This has far more impact than those things for which you alone are grateful.

4. Consider what your life would be like without certain people or things, rather than just tallying up all the good stuff. Be grateful for the negatives outcomes you avoided, escaped, prevented or turned into something positive. In other words, try not to take good fortune for granted.

5. See good things as “gifts.” Doing so guards against taking things for granted. Relish the gifts you have and received.

6. Savor surprises. I love the word “savor” because it allows you to linger on gifts that are unexpected. Savoring is a stronger level of gratitude.

7. Revise if you repeat. In other words, writing about the same people and things over and over again is OK, but writing about a different aspect of each person in greater detail is even better.

8. Write regularly. Whether you chose to write every day or three times a week, commit to a regular time of day to journal and honor your commitment.

9. Don’t overdo it. This is supposed to be enjoyable. No one savors a routine chore.

10. And remember, it only takes minutes to unleash everything great in your life.

Lisa Burbage

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