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Start a Gratitude Journal and Enjoy the Benefits!

20 Nov

If you’ve never tried it, I recommend kicking off Thanksgiving week by keeping a gratitude journal – noting times during the day when you feel grateful for something, however fleetingly. . .

The fact is, once you start focusing on times that evoke feelings of appreciation, thankfulness, luckiness, blessedness, gratitude – whatever you want to call it – you amplify the feeling, and that is very good for your health, mood, emotional resilience, relationships and general welfare.

Ridiculously simple, I know.  It sounds all hokey and Suzie Cream Cheese.  But it’s true – plenty of hard core research says so.

Doing this requires very little of us - just a setting of intention to be mindful of those moments, and a quick jot on a list kept just for this purpose. This trains us to notice more and more moments of beauty and sweetness during any given day. And keeping at it for even a couple weeks can create radical internal changes.  It can:

•    alleviate depression,
•    reduce anxiety,
•    brighten outlook,
•    increase productivity,
•    cultivate compassion and
•    generate optimism..

You could get one of the many notebooks created specifically for recording gratitude – there are suddenly a huge number of them, popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain – probably attributable to the impact of Positive Psychology over the past ten years.

Or, you could just scribble your perceptions on a little scratch pad you carry with you.  Or, you might prefer to create your list on your smart phone. They key is to do what’s easiest for you, so you’re more likely to keep at it.  

So, to give an example, this morning, I placed my attention on savoring the aroma of dark roast coffee wafting up from the pour over filter on my cup. (I could just as easily have found the wait time annoying, as I sometimes have on other days.)

I did some hip strengthening exercises and noticed my leg had definitely gotten stronger from the attention I’d been giving it. More gratitude. Thank you, dear Gluteus Medius!  You are a pal. I will continue to take good care of you.

I liked the cozy, protective feeling of being with family – a son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons fast asleep upstairs.  All this registered within a half hour or less.

Normally, I’d have these fleeting sensations, but they wouldn’t necessarily register on my awareness.  But because I was writing about them, they pinged with greater intensity – and benefit.  I’m a little more open-hearted than I was when I first woke up.

So, give it a try and see the difference after a couple weeks.  I promise you, it will be one more thing to be grateful for.

All best,

br signature

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award