My Magic Bullet for Happiness

I have a secret to share with you. It’s been called a magic bullet. For someone who staunchly DOES NOT BELIEVE in the quick fix solution, for me it’s pretty darn close to one.

Wait for it…Gratitude.

gratitudeIf you’re interested in shifting your mindset from can’t to can, impossible to possible, or more simply negative to positive, establishing a daily ritual of counting your blessings works wonders.

It’s not just the occasional words of thanks, but a quick yet deep dive into your everyday world. It’s oh so easy to reel off the day’s mishaps and woes, and we all love to do it. But think, just for a minute, about what’s going right for you.

From my interest in positive psychology, I knew of the power of gratitude. I started a daily journal on my phone, but honestly that lasted less than a week. It wasn’t until last summer that I discovered The Five Minute Journal. Ever since then, I’ve somewhat religiously spent (more like) two minutes each morning on waking and each night as I get into bed, jotting down my little lists of threes. (By the way, I’m not getting any kickbacks for this blog post.)

In the morning I record three things I am grateful for, followed by three thoughts on what would make the day great. On the days I wake with an already open and positive mindset, I go broad with gratitude for my kids, my health, and my family. On days that begin less auspiciously, I stick to things like my cozy bed.

At night I record three amazing things that happened – from getting a break from driving carpool to witnessing an incredible sunset.

The point is, whether your record things large or small, having the intention to think positively about your life and taking the extra step of writing it down are incredibly powerful. As the creators, Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, say, the journal “…instantly helps you shift your focus on the positive and short circuits negative thought loops.”

Why is expressing gratitude so powerful? By practicing gratitude daily, the reflex is strengthened and becomes more automatic in your daily thinking. There’s research to back this. For example, a 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that daily gratitude journals lead to a greater sense of well-being, better sleep, willingness to accept change, and lessen symptoms of physical pain. In a word, you feel happier.

It’s a minimal investment of your time for a pretty awesome reward. Did I mention there are pertinent quotes and even some personal challenges throughout?

I can’t recommend the daily practice of gratitude enough, and The Five Minute Journal ends up being the magic bullet for me. I’d love to hear what works for you in the gratitude department.

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4 thoughts on “My Magic Bullet for Happiness

  1. Hi Barclay,

    Thanks for this great idea. Would you recommend the physical Five-Minute Journal over the app?

    I hope your practice continues to grow. I always like reading your blog entries.

    Becky

    From: Elemental Wellness <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: Elemental Wellness <comment+_h1jgclyaxikt5-suzdwi44@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 11:22 AM To: Becky Purdy <becky_purdy@loomis.org> Subject: [New post] My Magic Bullet for Happiness

    Barclay posted: “I have a secret to share with you. It’s been called a magic bullet. For someone who staunchly DOES NOT BELIEVE in the quick fix solution, for me it’s pretty darn close to one. Wait for it…Gratitude. If you’re interested in shifting your mindset from”

    • Great question, Becky. I knew about the physical journal before the app, so that’s what I’ve stuck to. Of course it’s a purely individual choice. The app offers more privacy since it can be “locked” via a passcode. You can also set up reminders on your phone. I do enjoy the physicality of the book and it looks nice on my bedside table. 😉

  2. i like this idea. i have recently been making a little list on a post-it at the end of each work session of what i accomplished, another way of taking stock and allowing some perspective. thank you, barclay, for putting this into words, presenting it as a practice.

Let me know what you think.

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