Exercise your gratitude muscle
What happened today that you’re grateful for? Did you have a lucky break, did someone say something nice to you, did you have an awesome bike ride?
Do you own a $7,000 mountain bike, live in a beautiful pocket of the world, have a roof over your head, and friends and family who love you, but still feel discontent? That’s probably because we’ve been culturally conditioned to focus on what we don’t have, rather than appreciating we have and how far we’ve already come.
Forging a new path
If you’re building a new bike trail, it’s most challenging at the beginning—you rough in the new pathway, but it takes time for it to become well defined and easy to follow. Your brain works the same way, the more times a neural pathway is activated, the less effort it takes to fire this pathway. That also means the more you practice gratitude the easier it is to see positivity instead of negativity. When positive thoughts are repeated frequently, the brain connects to gratitude and increases your well-being.
What is gratitude journaling
A gratitude journal is a handy tool for keeping track of the good things in life. Each night before you go to bed, you think back on your day and write down three or more positive things about your day. It could be anything from a visit with a friend, a happy customer, a delicious cup of coffee, a bike ride, a kind action from a stranger, a funny text from a friend etc. (It should focus more on people than things.)
Benefits of gratitude journaling
There is scientific evidence proving how gratitude can change your brain, make you happier, boost your immune system, improve your relationships, and increase productivity.
- Reduces stress
- Improves mental health
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
- Improves relationships
- Improves physical health
- Improves sleep
- Improves self-esteem
- Increases mental grit
Why it works
When you develop the habit of thinking about positive things, that mindset begins to permeate your life. You start to consciously acknowledge positive things when they happen and get excited about adding them to your journal. Your focus turns from negativity to positivity.
Expressing gratitude promotes positive emotions, such as enthusiasm and inspiration, because it encourages the savouring of positive experiences. The end result: Gratitude helps you optimize feelings of enjoyment, no matter what your circumstances are in life.
- Find a small notebook or journal
- Mindfully sit and reflect on your day
- Look for five or more positive experiences
- Savour each moment and reflect on its goodness
- Go to bed grateful
*Woodcraft courtesy of @squarerootswoodcraft