“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings.”
– Irving Berlin
As 2013 came to a close, I have been listening to this song on repeat. I like the Diana Krall version the best, and find it to be beautifully haunting, evoking a happy state of sad. 2013 was a year of change, whether I wanted it or not. As the new year dawns, I can’t imagine resolving for any more.
Instead, in 2014, I will be grateful. My past New Year’s resolutions have focused on what needs to change, or what can be better. Even though I’ve always felt hopeful about them, they’ve always been oriented in negative thinking about what isn’t quite good enough. But not this year. I want to pay attention to what I have, what I appreciate and am thankful for. I will embark on a Gratefulness Challenge, and propose you do the same.
Here’s how the Gratefulness Challenge works. For the next 21 days you’ll keep a gratitude log. At the end of the day, you will reflect on the day, or life in general, and will record three things that you are grateful for on that particular day. Then make a brief comment about your mood for the day – down, nervous, excited, happy, neutral, etc.
Not only will this exercise help create awareness of the positives in your life, but over time, it may help improve your mood. A 2003 study done by Robert Emmons of University of California, Davis, and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, found that individuals keeping a daily log of gratitude experienced positive affect on a daily basis, and saw a reduction of negative daily affect. The key to influencing mood was keeping the log for at least 21 consecutive days. In previous studies, they found that mood was not significantly impacted in shorter periods of time, or if done less frequently during the week.
So, why not join me in the Gratefulness Challenge and fall asleep counting your blessings?
Kate N, MS, CEAP, joined Empathia in 2005 as an EAP Counselor, then became a Performance Specialist in 2012. Kate has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and is devoted to helping individuals determine how to make lasting changes. Prior to joining Empathia, she worked in the social work field as a case manager for Child Protective Services. Kate enjoys baking, yoga and escaping into the woods of Northern Wisconsin.