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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful/Positive Writing

I am no longer on Facebook personally, but I did keep a nom de plume account (yes, I'm one of those people that have a teddy bear account for one of my favorite stuffed animals) and I noticed when I signed on the other week that people have been writing what they are thankful for each day for the month of November. The social media accounts I do have personally, yes including Instagram, people have been participating in this exercise.

I hold a Thankful Thursday each week on my blog and oftentimes I do this daily in a paper journal. Why do I do this? Why do others choose to do this around Thanksgiving? For me, I know taking time to reflect on things to be thankful for alleviates any depression I might have. I tend to be negative at times and taking time to look at the big picture of my life grounds me to see, "Well, it's not all bad. Yes, a situation or situations might not be ideal, but I do have a lot going for me and I'm thankful for it." Working in a library I am exposed to many books and last Spring I decided to check out a book on positivity. One of the essay writers suggested keeping a journal to write about what you are thankful and positive thoughts for fifteen minutes each day. It helped her.

But, why does writing about positive events and being thankful for things help people? In the abstract from the National Institute of Health, stated that, "Writing about positive experiences led to improved physical health (measured 4-6 weeks after writing) compared to control and higher levels of global cognitive focus after writing mediated this effect. Notably, while the positive writing condition was more broadened than control, positive affect was not responsible for this difference. Implications for disclosive writing and the broaden and build model are discussed."

Psych Central's blog contends that positive writing can "increase peoples’ positive emotions and moods. One research study revealed that when a group of participants wrote about positive emotional experiences it related to a significant increase in measures of life-satisfactionalong with a few suggestions on how to get started.

  • Write about future life goals.
  • Journaling about positive experiences.
  • Start a blog about things and ideas that inspire you.
  • Write a happiness essay.
  • Write a happy and positive song or poem.

I challenge everyone to take 10-15 minutes out of their busy days to write something positive from an experience they might have to something you felt proud about today and something you're thankful for. Try something like this:

I remember the first time I visited Green Bay in 2011. I planned and financed the trip all by myself - I put money aside each week for the expenses of my visit and had some money saved already for the plane ticket and hotel. When the trip finally happened in August 2011, the experiences were more than what I envisioned when I planned seeing a Packers game, going to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, the historical societies and meeting people. I met wonderful people and a few of them became great friends; people I will use as contacts for when I do finally prepare to move, but their friendship now has been a great asset. The Packers game was fun - they beat the Cardinals and just the atmosphere was fun. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary took my breath away with feeding the ducks and looking at owls.

I am thankful for Ally suggesting that I should treat myself to a trip: treat myself to one place I've always wanted to go. Being a Packers fan, it was natural. I'm thankful that she encouraged me to take such a leap... a leap that inspired me to save for a whole year to explore more of Wisconsin in 2012 - another experience I'm grateful for.

Thankful Thursday 11/20/2014:
I am thankful for my health. I had my physical today and I lost 20 pounds since last year. My thyroid is back on track and everything else looked great: I am an extremely healthy 25 year old young woman, the doctor said. He gave me kudos for the major improvement and said to keep doing what I'm doing. I love taking my walks and zoning out to my iPod, I love walking to work and I am happy with the results of walking plus watching what I eat.

Today the signed CD I won from Caskey came in. I'm so excited to listen to it - I'm thankful that are still artists out there who care about their fans and hold these types of contests. It was so exciting to see last Friday when I was randomly chosen as the winner. Today has been a good day for me.

Do this for a month and see how you feel. Who knows, it might become second nature to do such a wonderful thing. 


  1. I do mostly the opposite in my journals. Vent and complain. Haha

    1. Haha, I used to do that too! I'm sure alternating is probably good too. :D

  2. Writing about positive experiences helps to solidify them in your memory, which allows them to overwhelm the negative thoughts. :)

    1. I agree! I am glad I started that habit. :)