Take a moment to sit back and think about all the things in your life that you are thankful for. In that moment, did you feel a sense of happiness or peace of mind? Well, the practice of gratitude is a simple and scientifically proven way to increase happiness in our lives.
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, has been studying the effects of gratitude on physical health, psychological well-being, and relationships with each other. He is a professor of psychology at University of California, Davis, and author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
Emmons has conducted many studies encouraging people to keep a “gratitude journal” where they regularly document things they are grateful for. He found that easy practices such as keeping a daily gratitude journal or keeping a gratitude jar will increase greater joy, love, peace, and optimism into our lives. We are able to improve our physical and mental health, as well as social interactions, by contributing gratitude in our daily lives.
Gratitude allows us to be thankful in the moment by magnifying positive emotions while blocking toxic and negative emotions. Start by asking yourself what you are grateful for, then write it down in a journal and continue to add to it.
Try dropping a daily note in a gratitude jar — you could make it a game with your family, and at the end of the year, read the notes as reminders of what you were most thankful for. Put a jar in your American Legion post home and have everyone write a note about what they are grateful for when they walk in. On your next Auxiliary anniversary, read back on the positives of that year.
There are endless ways to contribute gratitude in your life, but the benefits are all the same. The more you look for the good and positives in any situation, the better off you’ll be. Add to the jar whenever you want — once a day, twice a week, or whenever you’re feeling particularly appreciative.
Get your gratitude jar started
What it is: Exactly what it sounds like: an empty jar you can decorate and fill with slips of paper containing notes on what you’re thankful for.
When to use: Drop a note whenever you’re feeling like nothing good is going on in your life. Or write a note when you are extremely appreciative for all the blessings you have — and refer to them on a rainy day.
How it works: Find an empty jar around your home, cut up strips of paper, write about things you’re grateful for, and watch your jar fill up!
What to write: Remember to write whatever you want; it doesn’t matter how “important” or not you may think it is. Pretty much anything goes! Some gratitude examples: daily wins, special milestones, happy memories, chocolate cake, Netflix, spending a Sunday napping, visiting family, etc.