In a world of forgotten or empty resolutions, it is important to set realistic goals at the beginning of a new year. Common goals strive to exercise more often, while others aim to stop smoking or to eat healthier meals. However, these goals are often thrown aside within the first few weeks of a new year. Crafting an attainable goal isn't impossible; ultimately, specificity is key. For example, instead of promising to "exercise more," decide to walk thirty minutes a day before work. Set aside certain increments of time and space to attain the resolution. Though the previously mentioned options may not apply to all, there is an attainable resolution for everyone. So, what is a "beginner" universal option for all resolution-seeking individuals? Easy! Everyone should strive to keep a gratitude journal.
From listing and writing to animating and depicting, maintaining a gratitude journal improves mental health, for reflecting and cherishing specific moments in day to day life readjusts focus on those times overcome with hardship. In addition, Jason Marsh, editor of Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, states that "studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike." Something as simple as listing daily or weekly causes for gratitude could drastically improve emotional outlook and physical health.
This activity is not reserved for a particular demographic, and family members and friends also benefit from an individual's participation. According to a Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence study, "people randomly assigned to keep weekly gratitude journals exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to people assigned to record hassles or neutral events. In another, young adults who kept a daily gratitude journal reported higher alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to those who focused on hassles or compared themselves to others less fortunate."
So, as 2017 comes into view, set an attainable and specific goal. Spend 20-30 minutes a week writing and reflecting on the moments that make you grateful to be alive. In the end, your mental stability and physical health will thank you.