A gratitude journal
From an article from The Wisdom Project
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thess 5v18
An earlier blog, Counting your blessings improves mental health, I reported that many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
David Allan, editorial director of CNN Health and Wellness has been conducting some experiments to increase his 'gratefulness quotient' as he calls it. He writes as follows:
"I'm currently conducting two completely unscientific thankfulness-boosting experiments.
"Firstly, for nearly two years, I've been keeping a gratitude journal.
"A gratitude journal need not be any more complicated than keeping a notebook by your bed and starting a nightly habit of jotting down who and what you were grateful for that day. Journaling was the standard method for some of the studies on the effects of gratitude, so this is a simple but effective option.
"I'm coming up on two years of trying this one, and I added a layer you may want to consider. After one year, I took the time to total up all the mentions. My wife and children were, predictably, at the top, reminding me not to take them for granted. But I was surprised to see that co-workers, neighbours and a city park all ranked highly.
"It was useful for me to review in that way, because when I see those people, I have this added layer of positive feeling about them at the forefront of my mind. It's hard to get annoyed by someone when you think, "I'm so often grateful for that person."
"It was fun to play with the data, too. By category, "family" was the clear winner (1,011 instances) for me, followed by "places" (269 instances, with coffee shops being the biggest sub-category), "friends" (259), CNN "co-workers" (197) and "experiences" (133). Also, "Star Wars" (11) beat both beer (10) and books (8). It will be interesting to compare second-year totals against these. All of it is getting me closer to understanding and remembering what I'm most grateful for.
"Secondly, for the last five years or so, my family has engaged in a dinner-time ritual called "Roses, Thorns & Buds" (RTB).
"It's quite simple: Everyone at the table takes turns sharing "roses," which are something positive and happy-making about their day; "thorns," which are the opposite of that; and "buds" for something we're looking forward to and we anticipate will be a rose. Sometimes, the family meal and sharing these things itself is a rose.
"Granted, the "thorn" doesn't necessarily increase gratitude -- though it's still useful from a family discussion, empathy and problem-solving perspective. And if you can fix a problem, a rose may grow in that thorn's place.
"Here are our unscientific findings: Each time, we find that we have many roses and buds and usually only one thorn to share.
"We're in very, very soft science territory here. But reliable research does show that whatever you do to increase gratitude pays off, so it's worth it to find what is easy, enjoyable and effective for you."
Read the full blog here.
What would your journal say? What are the Roses, Thorns and Buds in your life? As well as something we may want to try personally, it feels like there is some sermon material here! And if we add in gratitude for what God has done..
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