“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Considerable research has been done on the power of gratitude. We know that expressing gratitude has numerous benefits, such as reducing stress and improving sleep. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Janice Kaplan, author of The Gratitude Diaries, “94% of Americans thought people who are grateful are also more fulfilled and lead happier lives. However, less than half of the people surveyed said they expressed gratitude on a regular basis.” So, we’re familiar with gratitude, it has become a buzz word, but how do we incorporate it into our lives?
You’ve probably heard of keeping a gratitude journal, which is a great option, but another strategy is called the 20-Minute Gratitude Drive. I first heard about this idea in The Gratitude Diaries. How often do you find yourself, as you’re driving home from work, reliving your workday and thinking about everything that went wrong? Why did I say that? Or why did that have to happen? Why didn’t I handle it differently? It’s so easy to fall into that pattern while we’re driving home, and research backs up our tendency to pore over the negative aspects of our day. Researchers have found that we have a tendency to ruminate more over negative events. We spend more time processing them and focusing on them, so those negative things tend to overpower all the good things that happened.
However, what if we pushed “reset” when we found ourselves ruminating, and flipped the script? Instead of focusing on what went wrong during the day, use those 20 minutes during your drive home to focus on the positive things. Think about all the things that went well during the day and all of the moments for which you are grateful. This will take some practice until you can make it a habit. You might have to remind yourself if you start falling back into the bad parts of the day, but if you implement this technique, you’ll probably be more relaxed when you get home. Who is ready to start the 20-Minute Gratitude Drive tomorrow? Let us know how it goes in the comments!