Top Secret to Your Happiness
Do you have reasons to give thanks today?
She Made My Day
My friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer left me a voice message. She was in agony last time I saw her about five months ago: She couldn’t imagine life without her breasts. She worried about her livelihood. She wondered if she could ever return to work. She doubted if she would make it through the surgery. The thought of dying at the age of 48 became unbearable.
As I listened to her message this morning, I felt her enthusiasm and saw her smiling face. Her big, brown eyes and dark, wavy hair appeared vividly in my mind as I played the recording:
Hi Joyce! This is Candice. I just want to let you know that I finished my last chemo treatment yesterday. I am very happy that this is over. I feel great! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. Come visit me again soon, when you are free. I hope you’ll have a great time as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family.
What a comfort to know that Candice is feeling alive again! I am thankful to know about her amazing progress. I am also thankful for my own health.
In counselling, I see some clients who are depressed and feeling sad. They seek counselling because they want to feel better. They want to lift their moods. Very often, I assign homework for my clients to work on as part of the therapeutic process. One of my favorite assignments is a Gratitude Journal. A lot of my clients also call this “Fun” homework. Often times, my clients report to me that they start feeling better as they recount the positive aspects of their lives. Sometimes, my clients share what they have written with me. As I observe and listen, I see them smiling, nodding, and even shedding tears of joy as they read out their entries.
I have been keeping a journal for a while and this habit has helped me become a much happier person.
Today, as we are celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I will talk about the benefits of keeping a Gratitude Journal as a way to give thanks.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
There are different practices and preferences about the optimal way of writing down your gratitude. Personally, a Gratitude Journal is a collection of positive happenings, things, and experiences that belong to you. This is a place where you show your gratitude, appreciation, and love for the people and things around you on paper or on the computer screen.
Why Keep a Gratitude Journal?
There are many good reasons for giving thanks through writing in your Gratitude Journal. Here are the top three reasons:
1) Positive Attracts Positive
Psychologists had long discovered the power of positive thoughts. The concept of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is based on the fact that optimistic thinking fuels positive emotions, that leads to better performance, that generates good results. You can figure out the opposite to this phenomenon where pessimistic thinking drains your energy while negativity brings on nothing good other than worries, resentments and even knots in your stomach.
2) For Optimal Health
Researchers continue to study and measure the effects of positive thinking on optimal health. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking may provide the following health benefits:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
3) For Resiliency
Life has ups and downs. The Chinese ancient sage called that the yin and yang of life. Good and evil, joy and pain, blessing and suffering, each pair represents both sides of a coin. Just as the stars cannot shine brightly without the darkness of the night, we cannot fully appreciate the pleasing moments without the dreary times. Reflecting on the positive instants of life helps us to acknowledge the goodness that life has to offer. It reminds us that difficulties and trials are part of life but they will not last forever. It gives us hope.
Next week, I will continue to write about how to start your Gratitude Journal. I will share some guidelines and examples on the quantity, quality and frequency that I find most helpful. Stay tuned.
For now, I’d like to hear your comments.
What are you grateful for this time of year?
What are your thoughts about keeping a Gratitude Journal?