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How gratitude can make you happier

This simple Gratitude exercise offers the following benefits:

  • Makes us happier

  • Boosts self-esteem

  • Improves sleep

  • Increases optimism

  • Reduces stress

  • Benefits our relationships

  • Reduces depressive symptoms

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Professor of Psychology at University of North Carolina has been able to show that “fear closes down our minds and our hearts, whereas positive emotions literally open our minds and hearts ... they really change our mindsets and our biochemistry”.

Research shows that people who are grateful tend to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Developing an attitude of Gratitude is easy to do and its benefits have been scientifically proven to help people deal with stress better. In tests, people who tried it each night for just one week were happier and less depressed one month, three months and even six months later on. It increases how much positive emotion we feel and decreases negative emotion. It raises our overall satisfaction with life and helps us have an overall positive outlook.

It works because our natural survival system causes us to focus on what goes wrong in our daily lives often going over and over these things in our head. We are quick to notice even the smallest of problems, yet we rarely spend any time dwelling on the good things. Things that caused us to smile or feel good are often forgotten or not even noticed in the first place.

This Gratitude Journal exercise is simple to do but incredibly powerful. It encourages us to take the time to notice the good things in our lives and get more from them. What's more, if parents remember to talk about the things they're grateful for, this can also help their children learn to think about the good things and hopefully get the benefit of a gratitude habit for the rest of their lives.

Keep a notebook and pen by your bed and every night just before you go to sleep, think back over your day and remember three good things that have happened - things that went well, that you enjoyed or are grateful for.

They can be small things such as the weather was nice, you saw something beautiful in nature or someone said or did something kind for you and sometimes they will be much bigger more important things - it doesn’t matter what the things are.

One of the things I've noticed is that the harder you find this exercise to do, the bigger the benefits you're likely to notice.

For each good thing that you write down, think about why this good thing happened, what it means to you and how you can have more of this good thing in the future.

Regularly look back on what you've written. How does it feel when you look at all these good things? Do you notice any themes?


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