Oprah keeps a gratitude journal. Daily, she writes down five things for which she is grateful (Harpo, 2014).
Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness, and this thankfulness can encompass the smaller and larger components of our lives. Expressing your gratitude can be beneficial. The quality of life improved in organ recipients who kept a gratitude journal in which they acknowledged for what they were grateful along with the reasons for their gratefulness. This happened in just three weeks of keeping the journals (as cited in ScienceDaily, 2013). Symptoms of depression decreased in participants of a study who wrote letters to others expressing their gratitude (Toepfer, Cichy, & Peters, 2012).
Start your own gratitude writing:
- Designate a journal for your gratitude (you can also keep an electronic journal).
- Make gratitude writing a family activity in which all members of the family contribute to it.
- Include pictures and small mementos, such as a leaf, a swatch of fabric, or a feather.
- Incorporate your senses: what you heard, saw, smelled, tasted, and touched.
- Periodically reflect on what you wrote, especially on the days you need encouragement.
- Instead of only listing items, explain why you are grateful.
- Consider using a cork or other decorative board in which you prominently post your expressions gratitude. The visual aid becomes a constant reminder of your gratitude.
- Write from a spiritual perspective; express your gratitude in the form of a prayer.
- Write letters to others to express your gratitude.
Last night I had a feeling that I should reset my wake-up time on my alarm clock a few minutes earlier. Overnight, the weather was bad. We had a mixture of snow and sleet. As I drove on the freeway the following morning, I had an encounter with a patch of ice. My car spun out of control. Within seconds, I was facing a fortress of glaring lights that stretched over the horizon of the freeway. It was the headlights of multiple cars rapidly approaching me head on. But because I left home a few minutes earlier, I had enough time to turn my car around and avoid a massive head on collision. I am grateful for that little unction, for if I had not left a little earlier, I would have been involved in a multiple car accident. Who knows what the consequences would have been?
For what are you grateful? Why are you grateful for it? This is the story in you. Share it.
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Harpo. (2014). Oprah's lifeclass. Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Oprah-on-the-Importance-of-Her-Gratitude-Journal-Video
ScienceDaily. (2014). Gratitude is good Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070815135030.htm
Toepfer, S., Cicky, K., & Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies. 13, 187-201. DOI 10.1007/s10902-011-9257-7