Cheat Sheet Fact of Life: Maintaining a gratitude diary will boost your happiness.
The ultimate goal in life is to be happy. Everybody has a base level of happiness. No matter how happy or how sad we are, we eventually return to that baseline. The baseline of happiness is dictated by psychological and sometimes socio-economic factors. Our busy and stressful lives are taking us farther and farther from our baseline, without giving us enough time to return to it. What can be done about that?
Couple of months ago, I read the book, ‘The Happiness Project’, by Gretchen Rubin. The author wanted to become happier than what she was. She researched about happiness and tried one theme for every month, for a year. She dedicated one month to decluttering, one month to enriching relationships, one month for gratitude and so on. When I read this book, I decided to practice one theme. I chose gratitude. Can practicing gratitude make me happier than what I am?
I have been maintaining a gratitude diary for almost two months now. I write about three things/moments that I am thankful for everyday. On good days, I am thankful for the interactions I have with my husband, my family members and my colleagues. On bad days, I am thankful for the food I eat. There are also a few silly things I am thankful for. For instance, when I listen to an old favorite song playing on the radio or when I bite into a delicious piece of chocolate.
Has my happiness increased? Maybe. But, I see some changes in my behavior. I worry about a lot of things. I still do. But ever since I started the gratitude diary, the time span of worrying has reduced at least by 3 times (I am in process of writing my performance appraisal so bear this language). The gratitude habit has helped me get out of the worry cycle by being positive. I am getting to my baseline level of happiness sooner.
I encourage you to maintain a gratitude diary. It is not at all time-taking. Write 3 to 5 sentences about what you are thankful for everyday. There are many writing apps, like Evernote or Google Notes, which can be downloaded on phone. These apps automatically sync the notes on the internet. It is a simple and inexpensive way to boost happiness.