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Gratitude

 

I bet you know someone who seems to be always happy regardless of what’s happening around them.  Like everyone, they can be happy when things are going good, but they also seem to maintain their happiness when things are not going so well. They see the good in all people, they see the opportunity in a challenge, and they are grateful for what they have, even in the face of significant loss.

Well guess what a positive attitude can be cultivated.  You can strengthen your mind’s natural tendency toward optimism if you work at it.  Cultivating gratitude is one of the simpler routes.  A gratitude journal is a way to consciously call attention to the things for which we are thankful each day. By focusing on gratitude we become more aware of things to be grateful for and thus we create a shift in our thinking to the positive. And experts say it is a way to boost not only your happiness, but also your overall health.

One of the best things about writing your gratitude down is being able to look back as a reminder of what brings you happiness.  This can be a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling stressed or depressed. You can decide to write in it daily, weekly, or monthly. However, studies show that majority of people get the most benefit out of the weekly option. This may be due to the fact that it may become too much of a chore to do daily when you’re just starting out.  So don’t make it a chore!  Just make mental notes throughout the day – and if you can, in good spirits, write in your gratitude journal.

I recommend that no matter how often you chose to write down what your grateful for that you look for and take mental notes of what you’re grateful for all day every day.  I personally like to fall asleep thinking about all the things I am grateful for.

Most importantly do not save your gratitude just for your journal. Tell people directly how much you appreciate them.  Everyone likes to know that they’re appreciated. So next time you get great customer service or your husband takes out the trash and your kid’s help around the house tell them that you appreciate what they’ve done.  And guess what they’ll probably do more of it!

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated” -William James

Gratitude Research Highlights

  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.
  • Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared.
  • Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.
  • A 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.
  • Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of others; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.
  • Those who wrote about the good things they were thankful for before bed said they fell asleep more quickly, got more hours of sleep and felt more refreshed in the morning.
  • Expressing gratitude is one of the most important factors in a successful marriage or partnership. Source
  • A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared.
  • Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.
  • A 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.
  • Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of others; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.
  • Those who wrote about the good things they were thankful for before bed said they fell asleep more quickly, got more hours of sleep and felt more refreshed in the morning.
  • Expressing gratitude is one of the most important factors in a successful marriage or partnership.

 

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