It is thought that we each have a certain ‘happiness set point’. Within this up to 50% can be genetically pre-determined. 10% comes from circumstance (like material wealth, status etc.). We’re left with 40% coming from the behaviours we engage in - And practicing gratitude is one of these behaviours! That means regular gratitude practice could yield quite large returns in terms of how happy we feel.
So here 's how you can start practicing gratitude from today!
Now in our experience we find it quite good to use something like a Five Minute Journal to get yourself started with a regular gratitude practice. Like learning to ride a bike it can help to have some support and structure in the beginning when you’re finding your feet with a new behaviour until it becomes more habitual. The journal will last 6 months and at that point you’ll probably be okay to take off the stabilisers and draw up your own format. Not knowing how to go about it should certainly not be a barrier to you getting started though! It can be as simple as getting a piece of paper and writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for. There’s no right or wrong way to express appreciation.
Morning and/or evening may be best as you’ll set the tone for the day and/or set the tone for going to sleep as we’ve said above can be beneficial. With the Five Minute Journal you’ll fill it in both morning and evening. The evening or pre-bed practice is nice as it can allow you to reflect on the good things that happened to you that day (no matter how mundane - this is almost the point) that you can be appreciative of.
A key tip for practicing gratitude and making it a longer term process is to get specific with your entries. I say this because it could quickly become very stale to simply write down each morning ‘I’m grateful for my friends, family and my health’. These are very legitimate things to be grateful for no question but it could quickly get repetitive and soon you’ll lose the connection to what you’re writing. What you can do then to prevent this is to get specific. If you’re going to be grateful for your health think about what about your health are you grateful for - What does it afford you the opportunity to do? How does it enhance your life? What aspects might you take for granted? How are you fortunate in your health where others may not be? These are all avenues to explore where you can pull out specific examples and feel them a lot more for it.
If expressing gratitude for family or friends, your partner or any other relationships this is a great opportunity to reflect on what people first of all - Then think about specific memories, experiences, qualities of those people that you appreciate. You’ll likely get many many journal entries thinking about it this way.