Bedtime Blessings: Giving thanks each day for blessings

Goal of this intervention:
“Bedtime Blessings” is one way to learn how to increase your happiness. It is designed to increase your life satisfaction and to sweeten your memories about the past. As put very eloquently by William Penn, "The secret to happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles." We have determined in well-designed research studies that it is true that becoming much more conscious of good events reliably increases happiness and decreases depression.

Recognizing and acknowledging what goes well in our lives builds the skills of remembering good events and not taking them for granted. It builds gratitude as well. Analyzing why events go well encourages a consciousness of blessings and molds optimism about the future.

This exercise is designed to help you and/or your clients appreciate and value the life they have: their strengths, values, relationships, wellness, engagement in work, meaning and purpose—all of which contribute to overall life satisfaction.
How to conduct this intervention:

How to conduct this intervention:
Step 1: Take the Authentic Happiness Index questionnaire for your baseline measure. Go to: then click on authentic happiness inventory questionnaire mid way down the page. The questionnaire and report are free but you will need to register first. This is a 24 question survey.
Step 2: Record your blessings for the next 7 days. Each night before you go to bed, reflect back on what went well during your day. This could be anything- significant or trivial. Use a notebook or journal and record events, people, strengths etc. that you were especially thankful for during this day. List three blessings each night and take note of why you consider them a blessing.
Step 3: Retake the Authentic Happiness Index questionnaire for your post test measure and comparison.

Questions to ponder:

  • What did you notice in doing this exercise?
  • Was it easy or difficult for you to record your blessings each night? Did this change as you progressed through the week?
  • How did you feel after you wrote your blessings?
  • How did you feel at the end of the week- after 7 days of recording your blessings?
  • What other outcomes or reactions did you experience?
  • How do these feelings correspond with your post test?
  • Did you notice anything different as a result of doing this exercise? (i.e. go out of your way to thank someone for what they did)
  • What thoughts do you have about the idea of continuing with this exercise?

Expected outcome

  • Higher levels of positive emotion as indicated by personal reflection (or client feedback) and post test measurements after the 7 day period.
  • You may also experience feelings of greater optimism, resilience, contentment and overall wellbeing.
  • Positive emotion potentially builds endurance to help deal with future adversity (Broaden and Build Theory, Barbara Fredrickson)

Things to watch out for

  • Inconsistency—your client may forget or skip a day of recording. Try to complete the exercise as directed for best results. Or, probe why you might be inconsistent.
  • Depression at outset—you may need the support of other professionals. A diagnosis can only be made after a thorough interview with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist.

Is there any science to support this intervention
Several studies have been conducted. One example: 2003 study by Emmons & McCullough, “Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well being in daily life” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Participants in the gratitude group ( who recorded 5 blessings each day- vs. second group who recorded burdens and a third neutral group who simply listed events or occurrences in their life) felt better about their lives as a whole and more optimistic about the future than the other two control groups (25% happier). They reported fewer health complaints and even spent more time exercising. Other descriptors of the gratitude group include: more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, attentive, energetic, excited, determined and strong.

Additional comments:
Research bears out that most people spend far more time thinking about how they can correct something that has gone wrong (or is about to go wrong) than they do basking in what has gone right. There may be some evolutionary advantages that predispose us to remember failures more readily than successes, analyze bad events more thoroughly than good events, and think particularly hard when we are thwarted. This minimizes life satisfaction and maximizes anxiety and depression. Remember, the goal is to provide you with the skills to build your emotional well-being.

Continue to take stock of the good events in your life daily. Although you may eventually choose to stop recording these good events and your analysis of them on paper, continue to do so mentally every day. We find that people who continue this exercise beyond the assigned one week show the biggest gains in happiness. You may also want to do this exercise with a partner as sharing may intensify the meaning of this exercise.

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