Week 1: Gratitude
“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be
to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more
grateful you are, the more you get.” ~ Oprah
This week you will have the option of choosing between two different challenges: the Three Good Things Journal and the Gratitude Visit. For more benefits, you can even do both! (they are not very time consuming)
With a recent shift towards studying well being and positive aspects of the human experience, extensive research within the field of psychology exhibits enormous benefits for individuals who practice expressing gratitude.
Expressing gratefulness for various aspects of our lives, including daily events, social relationships, and favors from others, is shown to be significantly correlated with high levels of well-being. Acts of gratitude, such as thanking a friend, are shown to increase an individual’s emotional well being (ex. Happiness, positive affect) after completing the act of gratitude. (Lyubomirsky, 2011)
Results of those who completed these 2 challenges:
- increase in alertness, enthusiasm, attentiveness, and energy
- more time spent exercising, reduced physical ailments, and increased optimism
Challenge #1 - Three Good Things Journal
Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“I received a full scholarship to study abroad” but can still be important “My professor told me he liked my essay.”
(Emmons & McCullough, 2003)
Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, “My professor complimented me on my essay because I worked extra hard.”
"Participants who counted blessings rated their life as a whole and their expectations for the future more positively than those who simply reflected on daily events or hassles." (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)
3goodthings.me is a free resource through Facebook which allows you to post your good things each day (it can be private so that nobody can see it or it can be public)
Challenge #2 - The Gratitude Letter
Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could speak with next week. Got a face?
Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our 'thank you' is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.
Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it either in person or phone call. The letter should be concrete and specific about what that person did for you and how it affected your life. Let him/her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what he/she did for you. Once you have written the letter, either read it to them over the phone or in person. (Emmons & Stern, 2013)
References and Resources:
Gratitude Visit: Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.
Emmons, R.A.; McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), Feb 2003, 377-389.
Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 846-855. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22020
Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). How do Simple Positive Activities Increase Well-being? Current Directions in Psychological Science 22(1) 57.
You're done for the week!
Go ahead and click the link below to tell us how the challenges went for you.