Showing and feeling your gratitude is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others.
Thinking about the people and things we are grateful for makes us feel happier.
There has been a lot of scientific research about gratitude, and the results show that it really works for most people.
Find out what you get from expressing your gratitude regularly.
On the positive side, grateful people are happier, more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. On the other hand, they are less depressed and less stressed out.
The attitude of gratitude
Gratitude works in almost every aspect of your life. Grateful people have:
- higher levels of control of their environments,
- personal growth,
- purpose in life, and
When it comes to dealing with the problems of everyday life, then grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience. Grateful people are more likely to ask for help from other people and learn from the experience.
Gratefulness makes you more resilient, and you will spend more time planning how to deal with the problem. Grateful people are less likely to try to avoid or deny the problems. As I pointed out in another post some time ago, Talk to People and Solve Your Problems.
Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.
There’s really no downside to expressing your gratitude.
Here’s how you can make it a habit that works for you automatically.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
Build a gratitude habit
The habit of gratitude is based on solid science.
Considering that all these findings above come from scientific research, it’s amazing that almost nobody does it regularly. In the last few weeks, I have done gratitude exercises every day, and my happiness is higher. (Of course, there may be other factors involved).
Here’s how you do it
Set aside 5 minutes, just before you go to sleep or after you wake up in the morning, to think about 3 things you are grateful for at that moment. Of course, you may do more than 3 but go easy on yourself.
Even better, write a gratitude journal. Create a text document on your computer or just write your thanks in your notebook. Why journal? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
[T]he longest lasting effects were caused by the act of writing “gratitude journals” where participants were asked to write down three things they were grateful for every day. These participants’ happiness scores also increased and continued to increase each time they were tested periodically after the experiment. In fact, the greatest benefits were usually found to occur around six months after treatment began. This exercise was so successful that although participants were only asked to continue the journal for a week, many participants continued to keep the journal long after the study was over. Emmons and McCullough conducted similar studies in 2003 and got the same results. ~~Wikipedia
Start with the gratitude journal, but when you feel ready, go out and really thank the people who make your life happier.
The list of areas you might be grateful:
1. Relationship and family – maybe you have the best family ever, or maybe you just avoided a divorce. Every little bit counts.
2. Friends and social interactions – your social circle is a reflection of you, make it count, and be grateful for the people in your life.
3. Career and professional accomplishments – learn and grow, expand your skills, and be thankful for all the results you get.
4. Health – one of the most essential things in your life. If you have good health, then be happy. If you have health problems, then celebrate every good day.
5. Fitness – get better results, be consistent; exercise improves you physically and mentally.
6. Experiences – theater, nature, food, books. There are countless experiences that make your life worth living.
7. Finances – Whether you made a million dollars or managed to decrease your credit card debt, you are now better off. Savor the moment!
8. Spiritual and mental states – meditating, mindfulness, being one with the universe. These feelings give meaning to your life, reflect on your mental state, and find inner peace.
Maybe you have a bad day, and you think there’s nothing that deserves gratitude. But you will undoubtedly find something from the list above.
Here’s one for you:
Today is your new personal best of consecutive days alive!
Also, you don’t have to come up with new things every day. If you were grateful for your health yesterday, then it’s OK to be thankful for it today.
My list of stuff I’m grateful for today:
- My morning run was really fast and easy. I’m in great shape.
- One of my business partners said that he likes our company so much that he wants to come work for us.
- My son is getting more experienced in dealing with socially difficult situations.
- I am unbelievably lucky to have met my girlfriend.
- I have great friends, a great job, a great life in general.
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~ Robert Brault
A simple mental trick to feel more grateful
Let others know you are grateful
You can use your gratitude journal to change your life for the better.
But why stop there?
Use gratitude to help others. Whenever you write in your journal you are grateful to have someone in your life, let that person know.
Thank your family members and relatives when you meet them. Call the people who you rarely meet.
Send thank-you notes or call the people who help you in professional settings. Let your clients know that you appreciate their business. Let your co-workers know that you are thankful and notice their support.
If you want to make an impression, then send a postcard from abroad. Collect the addresses of the people important to you. Whenever you travel, buy local postcards and send your thank you note. I have received a few of those cards, and the impact is memorable.
Show that you notice and care. Make your connections stronger and your life happier.
Now, go ahead, write down the things you are grateful for.
Use the link below to put the recurring event in your Google Calendar. Adjust the date and time of day to best suit your schedule.
Click here to add thank-you notes to your calendar
Make sure you also add a reminder.
Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses. ~ Alphonse Karr
The science behind the attitude of gratitude:
- Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2008). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the Five-Factor Model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 49-54.
- Kashdan, T.B., Uswatte, G., & Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam War veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 177-199.
- Wood, A. M., Joseph, S. & Maltby (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological well-being above the Big Five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 655-660.
- Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 1108–1125.
- Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66, 43-48
- Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N.,& Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421.
Image: Earth, Global Elevation Model with Satellite Imagery by Kevin M. Gill
Image: M. Tullius Cicero by Freud
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