She tried it for a few months, but she didn’t feel any happier, and so she had concluded that gratitude journaling was bunk, that it didn’t work and that the reader shouldn’t waste their time on it.
As I was reading this story my heart went out to the author. I know how it is to have your life, as you know it, fall apart and the ground you thought was solid turns out to be quicksand. I know the “try to do something that’s supposed to be positive and uplifting because that’s what everyone says except that it’s not working for you, and so are you even doing it right?” feeling..I’ve been there. But what I didn’t do was to go and tell OTHER people that THEY shouldn’t try a practice because it hadn’t worked for ME.
Incidentally, the facts and research are stacked in favor of Gratitude practices. But that’s beside the point, and I’m not writing this to champion gratitude or any other specific wellness practice. My overall point is that everything isn’t for everybody. The idea of Person/Activity Fit is confirmed by research put forth by Sonja Lyubomurski and Kristin Layous of UCLA, Riverside. Their findings state that, “This notion of the importance of person-activity fit is supported by studies showing that the degree to which participants report enjoying a positive activity predicts how often they complete that activity (Schueller, 2010) and how much happiness they derive from it (Lyubomirsky, 2008).”, which basically means that everything isn’t for everybody (I’m including the citation for the research below, it’s mildly “academic-y” but if you’re up to it, then go for it!). Whatever idea of success that you’re going for with an activity, and whatever perceived success you feel you receive from a practice, is going to be rooted in what resonates with you. If you try yoga and you don’t like it, it doesn’t help you or anyone else for you to continue doing it. If you try Reiki and you don’t feel you get anything from it, it doesn’t help you or anyone else for you to continue doing it. And this is especially if you’re frustrated by not getting the results you feel you should be getting.
There is no wrong way to approach a practice but there are tools and techniques that may make starting and continuing a practice a little easier while also bringing more benefit. Firstly, start with an open mind and ask your SELF some questions like: