We are about to enter 2010 and, as usual, a plethora of articles have been published about New Year resolutions.
The resolutions often have to do with health, relationships, finances or success and derive from good intentions, but they often end up discarded.
I propose we all embark on a resolution necessary to maintain a civil society and one that has many mental and physical health benefits. It’s called gratitude.
During the last several years, myriad studies have showed that we are happier, more creative, more productive and easier to be around when we are grateful.
It may sound like a simple task. After all, most of us, unless we were brought up in the wilderness by wolves, know that saying thank you is part of being a respectful human being.
However, the gratitude that I propose takes a little more effort. To reap the rewards, people need to be more mindful of their surroundings and their meaning.
One of the best ways to embark on this activity is to begin a gratitude journal. It need not be written in every day. Believe it or not, people who wrote in their journals once a week were happier but those who wrote three times a week were not. Gratefulness should not feel like a forced march.
Jotting down a list, however, is not how it works. Focus and imagination are necessary to get the best outcome. As you write down an incident or interaction with someone, imagine how it felt. This experience increases the health benefits. It is fairly common to reflect on irritations, inconveniences and tragedies.
What we continually practice becomes a pathway that our brain learns to traverse. If given the opportunity, why not expend our energy on what feeds our hearts and souls rather than our demons?
A family gratitude journal might be a nice way to create a shared history of joy and blessings. Write a letter of gratitude to someone you feel thankful to and then read it to him or her face to face.
Meanwhile, I wish to share how incredibly grateful I am to all my faithful readers. You have enabled me to fulfill a childhood dream.
Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Loretta LaRoche writes the Get A Life Column for the Patriot Ledger.