Gratitude isn’t a trait that society pushes us to nurture too much. But if you’re finding a general negative attitude too pervasive in your life, try starting a gratitude journal. Even if you don’t feel like it.
Expressing gratitude through writing not only has the effect of quantifying things we feel positively about, but the discipline of doing so forces us to break the cycle of thinking consistently negative thoughts. It’s not just wishy-washy, feel-good stuff. It interrupts the cycle of cynical thinking. Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, explains it this way:
“It is helpful to remember that it’s not really about feelings,” Emmons said in an interview with Live Science. “Gratitude is a choice. We can choose to be grateful even when our emotions are steeped in hurt and resentment, or we would prefer our current life circumstances to be different.”
The important aspect here is that you break the cycle of feeling like the world is terrible. This can be particularly useful for people who suffer from chronic depression. While it’s obviously not a cure, quantifying the positive things in your life can help anyone.