As we’re approaching what may be my favourite holiday of the year, it seems only fitting to revisit an important topic for health, healing, longevity and joy, namely, Gratitude. Thanksgiving reminds me to reach deep into the junk drawer, blow the dust off my sadly neglected gratitude journal, and get back to work. Considering all the benefits of this very simple daily practice, I recommend you do it too.
Journaling the small joys of life has a significant impact on your wellbeing and longevity. Recognizing and recording all the things you’re grateful for creates a state of mind where you consciously seek them out. At a certain point you’ll begin to naturally notice the things that bring you joy until, ideally, you see mostly that. As intuitive as this seems, researchers have lost no time in amassing data on the phenomenon. For example, this study asked participants to journal either “blessings” or “burdens”, and illustrates the effect on our emotional states and sense of wellbeing. The study that interested me most was this one. These researchers took it one step further and asked how these subjective experiences of gratitude play out in our behaviour. Not surprisingly, recognizing the good things in your own life shapes prosocial behaviours toward others, such as helping even when it’s inconvenient, and assisting strangers. This has some exciting implications for relationship building, as gratitude and empathy seem to be linked.
Here’s a blog I wrote on this very topic 2 years ago. No matter how many times you revisit this idea, it’s new every time; if you walk open into the world, with your mind ready to notice the small joys, you will inevitably improve your outlook and ultimately your health.