What Are You Grateful For Today?
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Health and Wellness

What Are You Grateful For Today?

Skip reading all the self help books and buy a gratitude journal.

What Are You Grateful For Today?
Philip Vaughan

Are you ready for another cliche, have a good attitude, positive thinking type of post? Well, sorry to disappoint. This may be an article about practicing gratitude, but it's far from cliche and I'm not stupid enough to believe that a positive attitude an fix everything. However, I do know from reading research and listening to people like Brene Brown that practicing gratitude is an easy way to have a better day.

The first time that I heard about gratitude journals was my psychology class years ago in high school. My teacher, Mr. Hislop, had us keep journals for class and did an exercise where he had us write down 10 or so things that we were thankful for that day. At first, I was a little confused. Nothing extraordinary had happened on a Tuesday at Polson High School in small-town Montana. What was I supposed to be thankful for? But, as Hislop explained why we were writing these things down, I realized one of the purposes of this exercise. Using a gratitude journal keeps you thankful for the little things. Even if what you were thankful for that day was your morning coffee with Cassie.

The next time I heard about this whole gratitude journal thing was during my counseling sessions when I came to college. Both my counselor and nutritionist had me keep a small journal of things that made me happy, things that made me smile, and things that I was thankful for. I struggle badly with depression, so at first, it was really hard to list these things. Most days, I had at most three things on my list. Sometimes it was just something like, "I saw a cute dog on my run today," or "I got 5 hours of sleep." You might be thinking that its strange that I could now only list small things in my gratitude journal when in high school I looked at the bigger picture. Gratitude journals don't have limits, though. You can be thankful for as little or as much as you want.

In my experience, I have found that the more things you list and the more frequently that you practice gratitude, the more happy feelings you produce. While I am not trying to convince you that a gratitude journal can cure depression or other mental illnesses, I can assure you that it can ease some of the side effects. Writing down that you're thankful for the sunshine on your skin, your sister's silliness, the way your boyfriend smiles at you, or getting to savor a chocolate bar can actually make a huge impact over time. Writing these things down can help you realize that no matter how shitty your life seems at the time, there are still many things to be thankful for and many reasons to live. Looking back over my journal encourages me, because I know that life is so, so, SO good and I never want to take any of it for granted.

Photo Creds: Philip Vaughan

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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