Here’s a scientifically-proven technique, that requires no more than 60 seconds of your time a day, that will change your life: the gratitude diary. Here we’ll see what it is, how it’s done, and why it’s so powerful.

The greatest virtue you can express is gratitude. It’s a powerful catalyst for positive change. The spirit of thankfulness blesses you with the ability to see the best of everything and as a consequence fills you with contentment and joy. It’s a powerful tool for making your life better. The power of gratitude is recognized by ancient wisdom and proved by modern science.

Melody Beattie, author of several self-help books, sums it up nicely: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Robert Emmons, PhD, one of the foremost authorities in the study of the effects of gratitude, reports that people who practice gratitude experience benefits in many areas of their life, from mental well-being to physical health to social dealings.

And how do you cultivate gratitude? How do you harness its power? The most efficient and scientifically-tested technique is the use of the gratitude diary, also sometimes referred to as the gratitude journal.

What that entails is simply writing down, preferably once a day, as few as 5 things you’re grateful for in that day. That’s it. Ridiculous, right? It’s so simple. If you’re into the science of it, check out this long list of studies on gratitude found at the US National Library of Medicine:

Why does it work? It’s all about the filters you create. In this blog post, I talk about the effect of our mental filters. You don’t live life as it is, you live it as you are.

We filter reality at every moment and those filters are usually created unconsciously. It’s all too easy to drift into a more negative filter, as life brings us challenge after challenge, and the disappointments and frustrations pile up. That means we create a negative filter. A filter which looks out for negative, disappointing and frustrating things. This, in turn, means we do in fact find more of those negative things, deepening our negative sensations. This is all going on below our awareness.

With the gratitude diary, we reprogram our filters. We essentially create a new filter: positivity. We tell our brain to be on the lookout for positive experiences, for the blessings in our life. That makes our brain filter out the negative and leave an imprint of the positive. A new filter is in place. We perceive more and more the good things in our life, most of which were there all along, but we just weren’t giving them notice, preferring instead to focus on the negative. As we perceive more the good things in our life, we naturally become happier, and reinforce our positivity filter, in a virtuous circle. That’s why the gratitude diary is one of the most powerful life-hacks out there.

Here’s my video on this topic:

Check out what they are saying about my book, “The 3T Path”: “Giridhari Das’ The 3T Path expertly bridges ancient yoga traditions and contemporary Western society. Giridhari makes philosophical ideas accessible to both curious beginners and experienced practitioners and gives us clear, practical directions on how we can apply yoga practices and principles to our everyday lives.” – Dr. Carl Herzig, Professor of English, St. Ambrose University

Probably the simplest scientifically proven life hack is keeping a gratitude journal. Just write down, every day, three things you’re grateful for in the last 24 hours. After a few days, you’ll do it in less than 60 seconds. It’s so simple, yet so powerful, that it’s just plain hard to believe.