My Happiness Project: September

My experience keeping a gratitude journal for a month. 40% of our happiness is determined by our actions and thoughts.

September: Practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal for the month. Learn about other techniques for the practice.

Every day in September I jotted down 3 things at the end of the day that I was grateful for. I had unsuccessfully tried this before for no more than a few days, but I wanted to try again for a longer period of time to see what would happen. I had heard of tales of this practice making people look for gratitude throughout the day (knowing they would have to find things in the evening to write down), thereby making them more positive in everyday life. I am not aware of this effect happening to me, however it is possible that there were subtle unconscious changes. I am much happier this month; though I would attribute it more to a ginormous career shift. Still, I really enjoyed the practice and I have continued with it. I enjoy the daily reflection on what stands out.

A person’s happiness or satisfaction in life is generally believed to be comprised of a small part circumstances (job, home, relationship status, etc – I’m assuming circumstances after ones basic needs are met), a fairly large portion genetic makeup, and then approximately 40% one’s own thoughts and actions. Thus, by focusing on changing our outlook, we can really have a large impact on how we move through the world and our day to day satisfaction.

I recently met with a client who was a little down in everyday life and actually wrote one of his goals as developing a better outlook on life. However, when we started to discuss this more in depth, he laughed and said that it would be impossible to change his outlook. I suggested that he write just one thing each evening that he was grateful for; even if it were the same few things over and over. When we checked in a couple of weeks later, he was absolutely tickled by the exercise. It had an incredible impact! He kept it in his office, wrote many things a day, and sometimes reflecting on it during difficult moments helped to get him past the difficulties and back to work with a better mindset.

For now, I will continue my own practice, and this is a tool I will definitely continue to recommend for the right person at the right time. Have you tried a gratitude journal, what was your experience? Or do you enjoy a similar practice?

As a health coach, I support clients to find the food and way of eating that works best for them. It includes actual foods, as well as practical and emotional factors (such as gratitude!). If you are interested in learning more about that kind of support, contact me to schedule a free health history. You will not be told what to do, but together we will figure out a path forward. 

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