Today's topic is gratitude. Such an important topic. I think it is so important to develop an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude can make unpleasant situations bearable, it can change your perspective, it can help you to have hope, it can make you more charitable, it can help you to handle stressful situations, it can help you to be more focused on what really matters, it can help you achieve your goals... I could go on and on, it can really help fix so many of life's little issues.
Funny enough, this topic came to me by surprise. A surprise e-mail in my inbox from Dr. Sara Gottfried. For those of you that don't already know who she is, she is a Harvard trained MD and New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Hormone Cure. She is coming to an event that I am helping put together for work, The Waldorf Wellness Weekend, so I am on her e-mail list.
[Side note... I just LOVE when two things collide in your world, and you start to see connections to things in totally unrelated parts of your life come together. Kismet.]
Continuing on... so I got this e-mail from her. This is a clip of what it said:
Today, I want to start by sharing a practice that didn't fit in my book (because my editors kept me on a strict page limit). It's a powerful way to turn the corner on feelings of stress and overwhelm - and start feeling happier and more positive - in 5 minutes or less.
It's called What Went Well.
This simple exercise only takes 5 minutes - and when practiced for just one week, it has been shown to improve happiness up to 6 months later!
My friend Jo Ilfeld, PhD. shared it with me because there's a ton of research behind it. And since we're both working moms, we really appreciate how fast and efficient it is.
She calls it a 'happiness intervention,' and it has its roots in Martin Seligman's work, who is the father of Positive Psychology.
Here's what you do:
1. At the end of today, sit down with your journal, iPhone or any piece of paper. Write down 3 things that went well during your day and why. You might write that you had a nice visit with a girlfriend, or that you had fun singing the latest will.i.am song with your child.
2. Repeat this every night for one week.
That's it. Simple, right? But the data from Professor Seligman show that when you do this for one week, it raises your happiness levels. And that happiness stays with you -- people in his study were still happier 6 months later!
So... what went well today?
So, why did I love that I got this e-mail? First, of all because I believe that it works. I believe in the power that gratitude has to change our lives and our perspectives for the better. But I also loved it because I happen to do this already and not only do I do it, but I have a specific gratitude journal that instructs me to do this very thing; write down 3 things that went well or I am grateful for. Do I do it every single day? No, I most certainly get busy and forget a day here or there. But when I do it consistently I notice there is an improvement in my outlook on the day and in life in general and I notice I handle things better as a result.
I also thought it was interesting that both the e-mail and my journal each mention writing down 3 specific things. It interests me that they both mentioned the number 3 specifically. I'm sure there is some scientific explanation as to why 3 is the magic number in this scenario, but for me it is the perfect number because it stretches you to find multiple good things within a day but is not so vast that you can make a laundry list of every little thing. Three things and you want to make sure to get a good variety listed without too much repetition (although my family is almost always involved in my gratitude journal is some way).
I hope you are doing something similar to help you keep your perspective positive and focused on things that really matter. If not, now is the perfect time to start! I'm even going to share with you a little treat to make gratitude journalism even more rewarding... FREE journal cards from Miss Tiina. Miss Tiina is without a doubt a favorite of mine in the design realm and these journal cards are no exception! You will fall in love instantly as I have! Plus, a free printable quote fav from me. Enjoy and have fun implementing this 5-minute fix!
Have a 5-minute fix of your own to help you stay focused and positive? Please share!