If you’re only giving thanks on Turkey Day – you could be missing out on a healthier, happier life.
It turns out there are many benefits to expressing gratitude on a regular basis.
In fact, if you can find a way to make a conscious effort to be more thankful, you could find yourself with less stress, more friends and you may even be able to accomplish your biggest life goals.
UC Davis psychology professor and researcher, Dr. Robert Emmons, literally wrote the book on the connection between thankfulness and happiness.
He’s the author of Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, which details his many studies.
One of Emmons’ most talked-about studies involved what’s become known as a gratitude journal.
He and research partner, Michael Mcullogh from the University of Miami, had three groups of people keep a very basic, weekly diary.
One group was simply asked to write about what happened to them during the week. Another was asked to focus on what went wrong during the week while a third focused on the positive things – specifically what they were grateful for.
Results of the study indicated people who wrote about the positives in their lives had some impressive differences from the other groups.
Harvard Health Publications covered the research:
“After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources ofÂ aggravation.”
Not only that – people who kept a gratitude journal also showed more progress toward reaching personal goals than the other two groups.
Emmons says there are several reasons why gratitude works:
1. Grateful People Celebrate the Present
It’s all about living (and being thankful) in the moment.
Research shows positive emotions wear off quickly. Emmons says appreciating the good as it happens to you helps to magnify those positive emotions and experiences so you get more value from them. He also says gratitude helps you be more of a participant in life rather than just a spectator letting it pass you by.
2. Gratefulness Helps Block Toxic/Negative Emotions
Obviously, negative emotions are going to do anything but make you happy – unless you happen to be Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street – but that’s another story.
Emmons makes the valid point that it’s almost impossible to feel angry, envious or resentful when you are expressing thankfulness and gratitude.
3. Grateful People are Resilient to Stress
Various studies indicate that when people are faced with serious stress from things like a trauma or personal tragedy – if they are grateful – they recover from those situation faster than others.
Emmons says gratefulness gives people a different perspective on what seem to be bad things in life.
There’s even some evidence suggesting that regularly expressing thanks can help stave off and relieve symptoms of depression. Dr. Deborah Serani wrote an article for Psychology Today explaining that gratitude can have a positive impact on hormones.
“Scientists say that these techniques shift our thinking from negative outcomes to positive ones, elicit a surge of feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, and build enduring personal connections.”
4. Gratefulness Strengthens Social Ties & Self Worth
Emmons believes grateful people have better relationships in life. That’s not only because you’re more appreciative of friends and family, he says you’ll also be more empathetic to others in your life.
In addition, gratefulness seems to give people more confidence and self worth. As Emmons explains…
“Once you start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life – once you realize that other people have seen the value in youâyou can transform the way you see yourself.”
Get much more on the psychology and science of gratitude from Robert Emmons when you watch his presentation for Biola University.
Plus, check out the video below from WellCast about trying your own Gratitude Experiment.
And don’s miss our Comment to Win Thanksgiving Giveaway! Just leave a comment explaining why you’re thankful one of your favorite natural health products and you could get it for free!
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