I'm not a big fan of giving my clients homework to do in between sessions but if there was one tool I would recommend everyone to try, it would be keeping a gratitude journal. In 2012, when I was at my lowest, I decided to trying keeping a gratitude journal after hearing about the potential benefits. If you are anything like me, when you try to implement something new into your routine, it needs to be easy and not take up too much time if there's to be any hope of it sticking as a habit.
I decided that before I went to sleep, I would write down 3 things that I was thankful for about my day and in the morning, I would write down 3 people I was thankful for. Sometimes, if I'd had a crappy day, it was difficult to find three things to be grateful for. In those situations, I would think bigger picture and write something like my job, home or living in a country where civil rights were protected. After filling a notebook of wonderful things and people, it has become a habit for me to drift off to sleep most nights with a thankful heart.
And it feels great.
You may be sceptical about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, after all, it's just a paper exercise but taking the time to make your mind search for the good helps to create new neural networks through your new thoughts. You are training your brain to find things to feel good about and, when you do this with some consistency, it starts to become automatic. It's not about creating a Pollyanna view of the world but rather, letting in a bit more of the good, which can often get crowded out by the frustrations, disappointments and pressures of daily life.