Keeping a gratitude journal is not a cheesy “live laugh love” habit; it is a scientifically verified way to improve your mental, emotional, and even physical health. It is also kind of a hard habit to form, and it can feel silly to do alone. If you live with a partner or other loved one, try this better method from blogger Raemon.
At the end of each day, talk to your partner (or other family members) about three things that each of you enjoyed or appreciated that day. That’s all you have to do to be a little happier.
If the ritual starts to feel forced (especially on a bad day), you’re allowed to first name a “grump”—something you’re unhappy about. But if you do this as a bedtime ritual, you and your partner have probably already shared a few grumps.
The “gratitudes” can be any scale. Really any scale, says Raemon:
Maybe the sun just glinted off your coffee cup nicely, and maybe that didn’t stop the insurance company from screwing you over and your best friend from getting angry at you and your boss from firing you today.
Usually you can beat that.
If you don’t live with loved ones, but you have close friends, you can build a habit with them. This is especially useful if you have a long-distance friend whom you wish you talked to more often.
As Raemon says, having a conversation is an easier habit to form than writing in a journal, or meditating daily. “It’s a social habit,” Raemon says. Plus there’s more than one of you who can remember to do it. (My wife immediately took to this ritual, and is usually the one who starts us off.)
Do the ritual during an already established evening routine: over dinner or while you brush your teeth. If you do it after your usual end-of-day conversations, you’re less likely to go off on tangents during your gratitudes.
My wife and I like to recite our gratitudes in bed, as the last thing we say to each other before we say goodnight and read our books. Our ebooks. OK, our Twitter feeds. You can have bad habits and still form a good one.