Gratitude, Happiness, and Optimism

Gratitude, happiness, and OptimismWith Thanksgiving and the Holiday season quickly approaching. We wanted to touch on a few skills and thoughts that may be helpful in this season……

Gratitude, Happiness, and Optimism
Adapted with permission from the presentation-
Happiness: How Positive Psychology Changes Our Lives by Lynn Johnson, Ph.D.


Gratitude prayers are the best at producing happiness

  • Write down some people who have been kind to you. What did they do for you?
  • How do you feel when you review those memories?

Gratitude Experiment

  • Jot down 3 things, in the past 24 hours, that you feel good about and would like to see continue
  • Jot down one or two things you did that you feel were good, right, ethical, or noble, some things you approve of
  • Rate your feelings before/after 0-10

Gratitude for Challenges

  • Jot down something that upset you
  • Now try to brainstorm: How might this be a blessing in disguise? How could I turn it to my advantage? What could be good about this?
  • Rate your feelings now: 0-10

Gratitude Diary

  • Each day, write 3-5 things that you liked
    • What happened to me? Why did it happen?
    • What did I do right? Why did I do that
  • Then write one thing that you didn’t like
    • Ask yourself: “And how is it also good, a blessing in disguise?”
    • Find two or three ways it helps you

Random Kindness

  • One day per week, do five acts of kindness
  • Write about it in your diary

Future Diary

  • Describe your future state
    • The present tense “I am doing X, achieving Y….”
    • How did I do it? Break down into discrete steps
  • Write on this once per week
    • Six months to five years in the future, 10 years in the future

Future Diary- Miracle Question

  • How would things be if your problems were miraculously transformed into solutions?
    • So if the current negatives actually ended up as a benefit (solution) in the long-run
  • What would you do? What would others see you doing? How would others know the miracle had occurred, without you telling them?
  • Write on this once per week

Smile Assignment

  • Practice smiling more on random days
    • Magic coin flip technique
      • Flip a coin- heads you purposely smile extra that day and document in your diary, tails you smile normal and document in a diary
    • Recall happy times, and then smile
  • How does smiling more affect you?
    • Track experiences in your gratitude diary
    • How do I feel?
    • How do others respond to me?


  • Focus on the sensory impressions in a moment-to-moment fashion
    • Food
    • Activity (walking, running, sports)
    • Conversations
    • Friends
    • Recall & Nostalgia
    •    Notice anxiety
    • Do not attempt to change or stop it
    • Notice the feelings, thoughts, fears, changes in your body

Reducing Trauma

  • 15 minutes of “Mindful breathing” reduced reaction to stress and improved mood.
  • Even 5 minutes 2x’s per day has significant benefits.

“What went well” diary

  • Can I make it happen again?
    Diary of when you said thanks – what happened?

About Us

Authentic Counseling Associates of Sacramento, Ca also known as Sacramento Counseling offers therapeutic and assessment services to all ages in individual, group, couples, and family formats. We treat a diverse community population including those commonly not served and all diagnostic categories. We passionately pursue this vision by growing a practice of dedicated and talented professionals. We offer private and group counseling. We are also home to therapy training for new therapists. We serve the Sacramento region. Our office is located in Gold River, California.