Keep a Gratitude Journal


One effective way to strengthen your capacity for noticing things to be grateful for is to keep a gratitude journal.

The goal is to physically record (i.e., write down) up to five things for which you feel grateful — a good event, experience, person, or thing in your life. They can be big things or small things.

Although there is no “right” way to keep a gratitude journal, certain approaches are known to be more effective for cultivating gratitude. The following examples come from psychologist Robert Emmons; some additional examples are provided in this article.

  • Be as specific as possible. “I’m grateful that my coworkers brought me soup when I was sick on Thursday” is more effective than “I’m grateful for my coworkers.”
  • It is better to write in some detail about one particular thing than to create a superficial list of many things.
  • Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude. There is some evidence that writing in a gratitude journal occasionally (up to three times per week) is more beneficial than writing every day.

By Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz

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