The Gratitude Challenge

It’s no secret that 2020 has been hard on everyone, and it doesn’t make you a negative person to acknowledge the toll it has taken on you.

But it’s neither useful nor productive to dwell on the difficult. Instead, research has shown that taking the time to count your blessings can actually make you happier. A 2011 study found that gratitude between relationship partners created a positive cycle in which the partner being thanked was motivated to continue the behavior that prompted the thanks, and the thanking partner was motivated to reciprocate the behavior.

Whether you welcome the approaching holiday season with open arms, or whether it leaves you feeling bereft, now is a particularly good time to focus on the positive and take the 21-day gratitude challenge.

If you search online for “gratitude challenge,” you’ll find a number of different options. What we’re suggesting is very simple, but still effective in lifting those spirits.

Get a small notebook and number the pages 1-21. Then, each day, write three things that you are grateful for. No repeats! And they can be as big or as small as you’d like. The point is to start looking for the positive in even the most seemingly insignificant interactions or events. Here’s an example:

On Day 1, I’m thankful for:

  1. Waking up in my comfortable bed.
  2. The supermarket clerk who was so friendly during check out.
  3. The wide sidewalks in my neighborhood that are great for strolling or jogging.

The great thing about this exercise is that it can help you learn to be a blessing to other people, as well. If you find that you are often grateful for positive interactions with others, you can strive to provide those sorts of interactions with your circle or strangers that you encounter.

And by the end of the 21 days, we think you’ll find that you’re an expert at pulling your own happiness wagon.

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