Gratitude might not be the first thing you think of when you’re trying to work out how to be happier. All of the usual thoughts (useful and not) come up – be thinner, be healthier, spend more time with friends and family, do more fun things, go on holiday more, not have to work – but gratitude often seems to be overlooked. Yet gratitude is a quick, surefire way to feel happy and content.
To be fair, certain people have cottoned on to the power of gratitude. If you search for ‘daily gratitude journal’ on Amazon you get a huge number of different options. Taking the time on a daily basis to list one to three things that you’re grateful for that day is becoming a popular way to take stock and recognise the kindness, joyfulness and happiness in your life. Just the small amount of time focusing on the good, rather than dwelling on the negative (or even just focusing on the good rather than forgetting all about it) is a great reminder of what we have going for us. It’s so easy to forget or pass over the good things that we forget to be happy about them.
My own journal, the Desire Map Planner Daily Edition by Danielle LaPorte, has a space each weekday for gratitude, along with prompts that remind you to be specific, or think about why you’re grateful for the thing. This really makes me think each day, and I’m always able to find something to be grateful for and happy about.
As well as filling in my journal each day, I’ve been contributing to a gratitude jar each week. There are so many variations on this, but mine is a simple Kilner style jar (except mine’s from Ikea!), along with some pretty turquoise heart-shaped post-it notes my mother in law gave me for Christmas. Each weekend (or whenever I feel like it) I add one or two hearts to the jar, with something I’m grateful for written on each one. The plan is to empty it on 31st December and remind myself of all things I have been grateful for this year. I’m trying to get my husband to contribute too, but I think he’s only added one so far.
I think it’s going to be awesome to look back on everything and remember it all – some big things (like my brother getting engaged), some little like having fun playing a board game with friends. They all count.