Quick! Name three things that aggravate you.
Now three things for which you’re grateful!
Which list came to you more quickly? For many of us, I suspect it’s the former. It’s easy to get sucked into negative thought patterns without even realizing it. Scientists call it the “negativity bias” — the tendency to dwell on problems and frustrations. But we don’t have to be at the mercy of our negative ruts; we can choose to focus on the good things in our lives. We can choose the attitude with which we view the world — it just takes a little effort to re-train ourselves to see things the right way.
Scientists have documented that an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being; people who are grateful are happier and healthier than those who aren’t. So how can we start seeing the glass as half-full? One of the best ways to cultivate a spirit of gratitude is to literally “count your blessings.” But in the course of a busy day, it’s hard to remember to stop and make note of all the goodness in your life. Recently, I found a free service that helps you do exactly that.
Grateful160.com is a free, online gratitude journal that works by sending you little reminders (you set the format, frequency and timing) each day asking “What are you grateful for?” When you reply to the messages, your answers are saved and compiled into a weekly digest. In addition to reminding you to think gratefully, the service also sends you a weekly summary of your answers so you can see all the many things you have to feel good about. I’ve been using the service for about a month, and I definitely feel more appreciative and optimistic. Give it a try!