Something I have been thinking about lately is the effect of gratitude on life. I’m not alone in this: Wikipedia has a long article on gratitude and the research that is being done looking into its effect on people. And in a way, that just makes it all the better.
So, here’s the interesting part. They say to make a journal of things for which you are grateful:
Out of the six conditions, the longest lasting effects were caused by the act of writing “gratitude journals” where participants were asked to write down three things they were grateful for every day. These participants’ happiness scores also increased and continued to increase each time they were tested periodically after the experiment. (From Wikipedia’s Article on Gratitude)
And a lot of people will start doing just that. And the first few entries will seem really really banal. Because we are grateful for the simple, obvious things first. But what about when you keep doing it? Then what happens?
In fact, the greatest benefits were usually found to occur around six months after treatment began. This exercise was so successful that although participants were only asked to continue the journal for a week, many participants continued to keep the journal long after the study was over. (ibid)
This ties in (again) to the writing I’ve been doing on Favorite Thing EVER: the more I look for things that I really really love the more I realize that the world is full of lovely things. And the field isn’t getting narrower. I’ve written a number of articles for that site, and I still see a growing number of new things every day that are worthy of a write up. It’s really pretty amazing. But after reading the results of the studies listed above I’d like to try the real experiment: Six months of writing about three things I’m grateful each day. This is actually kind of exciting!
Writing has always felt (to me) like scrubbing my soul; as I write freely I start to see who I actually am, and start to climb out of the scared, bored shell that builds all too quickly around me.
So, I’ll let you know how it goes, both of you who stop by here from time to time. Stay tuned to this…er, Rss feed!