Making a “Gratitude List” Can Work Wonders

Just two minutes a day can improve your life.

Here’s a simple exercise that can make you happier and healthier in just three weeks – and it takes only two minutes a day!

It comes from attorney and licensed therapist Michael Kahn, who was the guest speaker at Alta Pro’s December 15 wellness webinar.

This is how it works:

  1. Once a day – just before bed is an ideal time – come up with three things you’re grateful for. They can be big things (“I won the lottery!”) or small things (“Chocolate!”).
  2. Write them down. This part is key. The physical act of putting your thoughts into tangible form – manually with pen and paper, not on a keyboard – has been proven to help clear your mind, enhance your focus, and improve your memory.
  3. The next day write down three new things you’re grateful for. They can’t be the same as the day before, but they don’t have to be dramatically different. For instance, if on Monday you wrote, “My spouse,” on Tuesday you can write, “My spouse’s sense of humor.”
  4. Do this for 21 consecutive days. It’s important not to miss a day, even if you have to scribble your three things on a piece of scrap paper while you’re waiting in line at the post office.

“This exercise will train your brain to be more positive,” said Kahn in the December 15 webinar, Zen and the Art of Practicing Law in a Pandemic. “It resets the way your mind interprets things.”

Try it! One thing to put on your list tonight is gratitude for having read this blogpost!

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“The health benefits of expressing gratitude are many, and some might surprise you,” according to the Positive Psychology website. “Numerous studies are demonstrating how gratitude journaling can increase one’s happiness. Others show that inflammation in one’s body can decrease. Each study offers insights into how a person can improve their overall health and well-being.”

Researchers like Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, have shown that keeping a “gratitude journal” will sharpen our minds, brighten our mood, fill our hearts – and even improve our physical health.

Here are some of the specific benefits, courtesy of PositivePsychology.com and Greater Good Magazine:

For the individual:

  • increased happiness and positive mood
  • more satisfaction with life
  • less materialistic
  • less likely to experience burnout
  • better physical health
  • better sleep
  • less fatigue
  • lower levels of cellular inflammation
  • greater resiliency
  • encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom

For groups:

  • increases prosocial behaviors
  • strengthens relationships
  • may help employees’ effectiveness
  • may increase job satisfaction

If you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan, you can stay on top of ethics and risk management news by being a member of Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. You’ll get access to free webinars, the Pro Practice Playbook, Reminger ProLink, Ask the Risk Pro and more. Here’s how to join.

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