Two simple writing habits that can make you happier

First Thanksgiving autumn harvest feast 1621

Thanksgiving is less than a week a way. It's my favourite American holiday, one that I would happily adopt in my home country, New Zealand.

The First Thanksgiving (for those of you who live outside of the States) dates back to 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when remarkably, 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims celebrated their first autumn harvest together with a three-day feast.

I simply love the idea of stopping everything and coming together to give thanks and to express gratitude for what we have at this very moment.

2020 is a year like no other. It has tested us all. This year many people cannot share Thanksgiving with family and friends.

In times of prolonged stress, it is easy for the brain to fixate on what's wrong.

I believe we actively need to train the brain to be thankful and to focus on what's good in our lives.

More than ever, I find that I need to carve out a few minutes each day to pause and to reflect on what I am grateful for.

So in the Covid lockdown, I started two new quick writing habits, which I can honestly say, cultivate joy and happiness.

First, I created a gratitude wall in my bedroom.

On waking, I write who and what I'm grateful for on colourful post-it notes.

It only takes a minute, but by week's end, my room and my mind are both brighter!

I close each day with a similar habit.

Last thing each night, I list the highlights of my day, a practice I discovered in a TED talk on happiness.

Even on an uneventful day, I surprise myself and can find simple, positive things to write about.

It's a much better way to prepare for sleep than scrolling through world news or social media.

When I flick through my journal, I smile as I remind myself of all the good things I've been up to lately: this really lifts my mood and shifts my mindset. 

Bit by bit, day by day, these two simple writing habits can metabolise stress, wire the brain for positivity and transform your outlook.

Writing can soothe and heal, and help turn thanksgiving into a daily practice.

Start with post-it notes and a notebook, and see what happens.

And thanks for reading this article!

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