Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but also the parent of all the others. — Cicero
I knew that great thinkers from all ages and traditions had commended the practice of gratitude. Though I was never certain how the gratitude journal “worked,” I was aware that whatever I focused on was the thing I attracted, and I continued to find the practice helpful in combating the slumps that beset solo entrepreneurs, so I recommended it to many of my organizing and productivity clients.
Recently, I encountered scientific validation for the power of my gratitude journal (see source of original study below.) As described by Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Authentic Happiness, “(the researchers) randomly assigned people to keep a daily diary for two weeks, either of happenings they were grateful for, of hassles, or simply of life events. Joy, happiness, and life satisfaction shot up for the gratitude group.”
Here’s my method for keeping a gratitude journal: Find a small notebook that pleases you. As you finish work each day, jot down a few things for which you feel grateful. Here are some of mine:
- I am scheduled to teach the GO System workshop at (a client) next month.
- Steve Overman wrote a recommendation for me on LinkedIn. What he wrote was warm, gracious, articulate, and deeply felt.
- (One of my board colleagues) told me she is glad I’m president of the organization. She feels the group is more inclusive and welcoming.
- Tonight I arrived home at 7 pm after an 11-hour day. The dog walker had already taken care of the dog. It was heaven!
- I was able to refer (a client) to Susan Tiner for bookkeeping and financial organizing. I think it will be a great match for both of them.
Start your gratitude journal. Begin by recording one to five thoughts daily for a few weeks. Then use your journal as often as it seems helpful.
As you prepare to do a review of your accomplishments as part of your planning process, be sure to scan your journal entries to remind you of past accomplishments.
Do you keep a gratitude journal? What have you observed? Leave a comment here.
(Original study cited above: Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. (2003). “Counting blessings versus burdens: Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well being in daily life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, No. 84, pages 377-389.)