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Happy Thanksgiving | How to Keep a Gratitude Journal

Despite all the turmoil of 2020, there is still so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

I am thankful for so many things; among them is for my ability to walk. There are three main reasons why. First, I started walking as a way to alleviate my rheumatoid arthritis. When I first started, the pain was so severe; I could barely walk for more than 10 minutes. But one step at a time, I felt good enough to walk for more than 2 hours. I now apply that same principle to my life. No matter how painful life gets, I keep going one step at a time. Second, I have become more knowledgeable about so many different things. During my long walks, I listen to motivational speakers/messages and audiobooks. I also practice walking meditation, which helps me to be more at peace and relaxed.Finally, walking has made tremendous improvements in my overall health. Regular sunshine and fresh air are natural remedies for your mind, body, and soul. 

Despite all the struggles this year, I hope you can take a moment to practice some gratitude. We can become more grateful through practice. There is good evidence that cultivating the practice of gratitude leads to increases in physical and mental well-being. Keeping a gratitude list has been shown to increase well-being, optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness while reducing negative feelings, depression, worry, body dissatisfaction, and physical symptoms.

How to keep a gratitude journal according to gratitude researchers:

  1. Write it down: Don’t just make a list in your head. Write about the people and things you are grateful for in your life. Keep a record so you can review it. 

  2. Be specific: The more particular you are, the better. For example, “I am grateful that my children are healthy and doing well in school, and that I have a loving relationship with someone who truly cares for me” is better than “I am grateful for my family.” 

  3. Focus on people: Focusing on people you are grateful for is more effective than writing about things. 

  4. More profound is better: Elaborating in detail about a particular thing you are grateful for is more beneficial than making a shallow list of many things. 

  5. Savor surprises: Recording events that were unexpected or surprising tend to elicit stronger feelings of gratitude. 

  6. Set your intention: Your motivation to be happier plays an essential part in your development of gratitude. Like many things in life, the more you engage, the more you will get out of it – if you just ‘go through the motions,’ it will be less effective. 

  7. Be consistent: Once you have set your intention to record things, you'll be grateful for honoring your intention by sticking to it. Set aside fifteen minutes at a specific time of day to complete your journal. 

  8. Don't overdo it: Writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) is more effective than writing daily.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020! Take care, stay safe, and be well.

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