Thoughts about how miserable we are at work can be like a sad song running underneath all our daily activities. The longer it plays, the harder it is to hear anything else. But to change that into a brighter melody, we can deliberately teach ourselves to listen to another tune. A brighter one.

The psychologist, Robert Emmons, in his experiment on ‘Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Everyday Life’, showed that participants who wrote down the things they were grateful for, each day for 2 weeks, showed increases in positive feelings, helpful behaviour and energy levels.

Not bad.

How to Practice

Take a couple of minutes each day to reflect on some of the things you felt grateful for that day. They could include a good meal, a laugh with a friend, a problem solved, a loving family … whatever. Give yourself 2 weeks and mark it in your daybook or on your calendar. Or give it 3 weeks because supposedly it takes 21 days to set a new habit. (I don't know how true that is, but it seems helpful anyhow.)

The items you choose at first may seem a bit vague or intangible, like ‘I am grateful to live in this place’ or ‘grateful for my friends’. It may not seem like it’s doing much of anything for you. But as you get better at it, you may find that it gets more real. Loving the scent of coffee in the morning is still genuine gratitude and it counts. Chocolate counts. A warm bath after a cold day counts. These may count even more than the intangible things because you can really FEEL the joy of them. After a while you may find yourself noticing more of these more tangible pleasures, great or small, through the day. Jot them down right then, to make them easier to remember.

Each of us has these positive notes in our days, yet they often go unnoticed. Taking the time to appreciate them, to notice them, helps us to hear their melody even in the noise of our daily activities.


Some people will make a special ‘Gratitude Journal’ to help remember their commitment to the process.

Try choosing the same time every day if you can – perhaps right as you prepare for bed. This helps make it a habit.