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How to Keep a Gratitude Journal



Simple tips for recording the joys — and challenges — that enhance your life.

One of the most reliable ways to boost your health, happiness, and connection with others is also one of the simplest: giving thanks.

Keeping a gratitude journal and writing your thoughts on paper allows you to consciously note your appreciation for all the good things and people in your life, research suggests. When you’re scared or angry, practicing gratitude in this way can help you put things into perspective, ease your anxiety, and improve your mood.

But recognizing what you’re grateful for, and fully appreciating it, takes practice. These tips offer some helpful ways for documenting your gratefulness more frequently — and meaningfully.

Be creative.

Can’t find the right words? Draw instead. Or paste mementos of fun events (photos, ticket stubs, etc.) into your journal. Each time you see these, you’ll feel thankful for those experiences all over again.

Go deep.

Don’t just document events or thoughts; express your emotions about your experiences.

Take a moment to reflect.

Note two to five things you’re grateful for — such as the breakfast you had with your kids or being able to ride your bike to work.

Get real.

Record the good in your life, but also chronicle the lessons and silver linings you take away from challenges and setbacks.

Make it a habit.

Writing weekly is the best way to establish a consistent rhythm for your practice.

This article has been updated. It was originally published in the Jan./Feb. 2016 issue of Experience Life magazine.

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Health & Fitness

The 4 Communication Styles – Experience Life



How knowing these four different communication styles can improve your relationships.

When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I developed a pattern of sulking, almost on a monthly rotation. We’d take turns getting upset about something relatively minor — one friend wouldn’t call when she said she would, another would flirt with that cute boy we’d all been crushing on.

Whatever the origin of the sulk, the aggrieved party would insist, “I’m not mad.” Resolving the conflict became impossible, because no one would ever admit they were angry.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that behavior is a classic example of passive-aggressive communication — and it’s an ineffective way to get your point across.

So why do some people persist in long sighs, insincere denials, and other hallmarks of passive aggression? It’s not that they’re stuck in middle school, experts say. It’s just one of the four basic communication styles: passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive.

Our communication style can be a powerful tool in building meaningful connections with others. Though our way of communicating may vary depending on the situation and the individual, we all tend to gravitate toward one dominant mode — and sometimes get entrenched in bad habits.

Research suggests the assertive style is the healthiest and most effective, although it’s normal to use one of the other types on occasion. When communication breaks down, it’s often because of conflicting styles.

“Communicating effectively is a good way to lower the amount of stress we’re experiencing individually and collectively,” says psychologist Randy Paterson, PhD, author of The Assertiveness Workbook. “As we think about the pain in the world, think about how much stems from people feeling profoundly alienated from one another.”

Understanding your own com­munication style — and learning how to identify the types of those around you — can foster more compassion and mutual respect in your most important relationships.

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