It’s Week 2 of our Summer of Joy and the theme this week is GRATITUDE.
A wise man once said that the real key to happiness isn’t the pursuit of endless positives, but in how we value and appreciate what we already have. In leaning into gratitude, therefore, one leans into joy.
Science confirms this, as recent studies reveal that gratitude can lead to greater joy, happiness and life satisfaction. For example, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough found that individuals who keep gratitude journals reported higher levels of positive emotions, greater optimism about the coming week, fewer physical symptoms, and more feelings of connectedness than those who do not.¹
In another study by Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, he and his team found that individuals who wrote down three good things each day for a week were significantly happier and less depressed for up to six months.²
These findings (and many others) suggest that expressing gratitude can shift our focus from what’s wrong in our lives to the abundance that’s present, promoting feelings of joy and satisfaction.
A Simple Daily Gratitude Exercise
Luckily, gratitude isn’t just a state of mind, but a skill that can be honed with regular practice. Here’s a straightforward, 3 to 5-minute gratitude exercise you can incorporate into your daily routine, and in turn, boost joy:
Step 1: Each morning or evening, find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed for a few minutes.
Step 2: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Focus on the present moment.
Step 3: Reflect on three things that happened during the day for which you are grateful. These don’t need to be earth-shattering events; they can be simple moments or things that brought you joy, comfort, or peace.
Step 4: Write down these three things in a journal. Describe them in detail, expressing how they made you feel and why you are thankful for them.
Step 5: Close the journal and take a moment to feel the gratitude in your heart.
The act of documenting these moments helps reinforce positive emotions and increase mindfulness. With consistent practice, this exercise can build a “gratitude muscle” that can significantly improve your overall sense of well-being and joy.
As the saying goes, “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude” (Karl Barth). The practice of gratitude, simple yet powerful, can open the door to more joy in your life. So, start your gratitude journal today, and prepare to welcome an increased level of joy into your life.
See you for Week 3 of the Summer of Joy!
¹: Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(2), 377.
²: Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology