One of the most reliable ways to boost your health, happiness, and connection with others is also one of the simplest: giving thanks.

Keeping a gratitude journal and writing your thoughts on paper allows you to consciously note your appreciation for all the good things and people in your life, research suggests. When you’re scared or angry, practicing gratitude in this way can help you put things into perspective, ease your anxiety, and improve your mood.

But recognizing what you’re grateful for, and fully appreciating it, takes practice. These tips offer some helpful ways for documenting your gratefulness more frequently — and meaningfully.

Be creative.

Can’t find the right words? Draw instead. Or paste mementos of fun events (photos, ticket stubs, etc.) into your journal. Each time you see these, you’ll feel thankful for those experiences all over again.

Go deep.

Don’t just document events or thoughts; express your emotions about your experiences.

Take a moment to reflect.

Note two to five things you’re grateful for — such as the breakfast you had with your kids or being able to ride your bike to work.

Get real.

Record the good in your life, but also chronicle the lessons and silver linings you take away from challenges and setbacks.

Make it a habit.

Writing weekly is the best way to establish a consistent rhythm for your practice.

This article has been updated. It was originally published in the Jan./Feb. 2016 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Heidi Wachter

Published by
Heidi Wachter

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