Why Keep a Record of Good Things?

A way to multiply the things you love

If you make one New Year’s Resolution for 2016, make it to record the good things in your life.

Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal can bring a multitude of benefits - everything from better sleep to greater confidence, happier relationships and increased resilience.

How is it that something so simple as a tally of good things could have such a robust effect on your wellbeing?

Keeping any kind of journal calls for a hefty dose of vulnerable sincerity. Which, to anyone who has ever felt an ounce of self consciousness, can feel a little terrifying.

But consider for a moment those people you know who, regardless of where life is taking them, default to quiet, persistent optimism. Aren't they sensible? Aren't they robust? And aren't they the ones you want around in a crisis?

They seem like rare birds, but what if their outlook were more achievable than we think? How reassuring to think that positivity isn't reserved for a special few - and they aren't tapping some mystery optimist's elixir that you'll never have access to.

An 'attitude of gratitude' is available for all of us - if we work at it. Gratitude is a practice. And the more time we spend taking note of things we appreciate, the more we find ourselves slipping into an appreciative mood.

Regularly finding things to be grateful for has the small but consistent effect of amplifying what you love about life, and making the tough things that little bit easier to deal with. Think of it as a fine adjustment of your filter - a re-tuning.

There's something slightly Buddhist about it. Rather than focusing on the next thing, the purchase or job or lover or achievement that will finally make all our travails worthwhile - we look for happiness in this day, however small or humble.

So maybe this year, instead of setting lavish targets to exercise more, eat only kale, learn five languages or abstain from lager - we will resolve to try a little journalling.

Make daily, weekly or just occasional notes about the people, places, opportunities or experiences that make you laugh, smile or just feel glad to be alive. It sure can't do any harm - and you might just find it changes your outlook for the good.