All month we have been looking at how writing can improve both our mood and our health. Many of my clients tell me that they would journal more if only they had the time. Today, I will give you three life-transforming exercises that can be done in as little as five minutes a day. Wow! All of us can do that.
1. Record a Happy Memory. Dr. Fred B. Bryant from Loyola University in Chicago discovered that people who savor their happy memories feel better right now. Write for five minutes about a happy memory or a happy moment from the present. Use as much sensory detail as possible. For example, instead of simply writing about what was on the Thanksgiving table—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and so forth—describe how it smelled or tasted.
2. Practice Gratitude. Plenty of research suggests that practicing gratitude relieves stress and makes us feel happier. Write about between one and three people or experiences you are grateful for. You can also do this exercise with a family member or significant other. Take turns writing three things you are thankful for about the other person. My husband and I have been doing this for about ten years. Our gratitude journal has become a treasured keepsake.
3. Dream. People who record their dreams and goals are better able to achieve them. They are also happier and healthier. Record your visions, dreams, and goals for the future. Sometimes the best way to do this is to complete a sentence repeatedly until you run out of ideas. Try completing these sentences:
I want to give up . . .
I want to take on . . .
I will rock my life by . . .
I will strengthen my body and spirit by . . .
I will work to change my world by . . .
A word of warning—this kind of writing can change your life! Try it and see what happens. Don’t forget to report back on what you find out!