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WRITE TEAM: Is gratitude the secret to happiness?

Many people believe the key to happiness is food or money, but I think the key to happiness is very simple, it’s showing gratitude.

I thank God every day for my blessings. It’s important to take time out and remember all of the things to be thankful for and that many of us take for granted.

According to “Frontiers for Young Minds” (Sept. 28, 2017), scientists have found that people who feel grateful are happier, sleep better, have less pain and don’t get sick as often. One explanation for this is that grateful people think about the world in a more positive way. Grateful people have better friendships, and having better friendships can expand your happiness and improve your physical health. 

Scientific research has shown that people who are grateful have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, exercise more and take better care of themselves. They have more pleasure and joy they are more forgiving and optimistic.

How can you use this research in your own life? You can make a list of things you are grateful for and remind yourself of three to four things that happened throughout the day that you are grateful for. You also can take pictures of something you are thankful for, send an email or a text message to a friend, thanking them for something they’ve done for you. 

I think writing in a gratitude journal is beneficial for everybody, especially teenagers. When I started teaching this school year, I decided I wanted my seventh graders to write gratitude journals. I wanted them to think of all of the good things that have happened in their lives, focusing on the positive aspects. 

Below are some journal prompts they’ve written about:

• Describe your happiest childhood memory.

• Who is the one friend you can always rely on?

• What is your favorite memory with your mother?

• What is your favorite memory with your father?

• What is a mistake that you’ve made that ultimately led to a positive experience?

• Who is a teacher or mentor who has made an impact in your life and how did they help you? 

• What is something you’ve learned this week that you’re thankful for?

• Who made you smile in the past 24 hours and why?

• What do other people like about you?

• Write about a recent obstacle you faced and how you overcame it.

• Describe your favorite sight.

• Describe your favorite taste.

• How is your life more positive today than it was last year?

My students enjoy writing in their journals daily, and it really opens up their minds.

After they’ve finished journaling, they share their experiences. It’s fun hearing them talk about their favorite memories and things they’ve overcome in their short lives. I’ve also started writing in a gratitude journal and it has made me very happy, looking back at positive experiences.

When you’ve had a rough day, just look back at your gratitude journal. It surely will put a smile on your face. I think gratitude is the secret to happiness.

• Amy Roach is a wife, mother and teacher living in Hennepin. She can be reached at tsloup@shawmedia.com.

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