#Blessed: Gratitude Journals


Thanksgiving isn’t just a great holiday — it’s a way of life. Positive psychology research shows that regular reflection on how we are #blessed has several benefits. Including:

  • increasing positive emotions and affect.
  • helping people be more resilient against negative experiences in their life.
  • decreasing symptoms of depression.
  • improving well-being and physical and mental health.

Scholars recommend keeping a “gratitude journal,” or a diary of things for which you are grateful. Those keeping a journal document a list of things they appreciate having (or not having) in their lives, such as people, experiences, or things. Nothing is too big or small to be thankful for — you can be thankful for your family or that delicious cup of coffee you had this afternoon.

Keep your journal in any format that you like and makes sense for you. Enjoy the tactile feel of writing in a journal? Do that! Inseparable from your computer or phone? There are apps to help you journal. Write about 3 to 5 things you are grateful for on a regular basis. Studies suggest writing occasionally (about 1 to 3 times a week) is more beneficial than daily journaling, but do try to set a regular schedule and stick to it.


Here are some tips for keeping your own gratitude journal:

  • Be specific. Noting “I’m grateful that my sisters helped me study for a difficult chemistry test” will be more impactful than “I’m grateful for my sisters.”
  • View good things as “gifts” — this helps keep you from taking them for granted.
  • Having trouble coming up with things to list? Note people and things that you would miss if they weren’t in your life. Similarly, list things NOT in your life that you are grateful for, such as negative outcomes you avoided, escaped, prevented, or turned into something positive.
  • Look closer. Being grateful for small things, like the color of the changing leaves outside or that someone loaned you a pen in class, can be as impactful as “larger” things.
  • Find new ways to be grateful. Writing about some of the same people and things is okay, but try focusing on a different aspect in detail each time.

Happy writing and reflecting!

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Joe Morris received his Bachelor of Science in Mass Media and Master of Arts in Communication from Missouri State University. He currently serves as the director of New Student & Family Programs at Missouri State University, which assists new students and their family members in making a successful transition into university life through a number of programs. His professional interests include leadership development and the application of social science research in higher education. He is a member of Theta Chi fraternity.

 

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