How to Become Happier in Only Three Minutes per Day
One of the most powerful habits for cultivating happiness is practicing gratitude. Gratitude is simply the feeling of being grateful or thankful for a positive outcome. It is a pleasant emotion that is often linked with contentment and happiness. Practicing gratitude does not mean that we ignore or deny unpleasant circumstances. Gratitude is all about focusing on and celebrating the many small blessings that we experience.
Researchers have found that people who are consistently grateful are happier, more energetic, and more hopeful than their less grateful peers. Feeling grateful causes our brain to increase the production of serotonin which elevates our mood. Not only do we feel better emotionally, but we also benefit because the increase in serotonin counteracts our body’s fight-or-flight stress response.
If you’re like me, you are not naturally grateful. According to researchers at Essex University in England, the human brain seems to be naturally “wired” to take positive or neutral events in stride. We hardly even notice when positive things happen to us. Yet we overly focus on negative events and daily hassles that we experience. This pattern fit me perfectly. I would ignore (or quickly forget) the five things that went well, yet brood over the one thing that went wrong in my day.
According to research conducted by psychologist Robert Emmons, Ph.D., one of the most effective ways to elevate happiness is to use a “gratitude journal.” Dr. Emmons discovered that those who wrote down three things that went well in their day reported being much happier than when they first began the study. They also felt less stressed and even exercised more often. Researchers were amazed that
such a simply activity could be so life changing.
I have been keeping a gratitude journal for several years and it has made a positive difference in my life. Keeping a gratitude journal has taught me to regularly be on the “look out” for anything that goes well or makes me smile. In a recent entry, I wrote about a pleasant walk with my dog and how I enjoyed seeing the leaves that are changing color.
When I recognize and celebrate my blessings, both large and small, I feel happier and bounce back more quickly from disappointments.
How about you? Have you tried keeping a gratitude journal? Did it make a difference in your life?