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.