Through difficult times , it can be challenging to live a grateful life. I know that I struggled with gratitude during some difficult times in my own life. Years ago I made a decision to change my attitude. Today I strive to live in gratitude each and every day. By paying attention to all the simple daily pleasures, I have been able to sleep better, reduce anxiety, feel less stressed, and generally become happier and healthier. And this is not just my impression- manifesting gratitude has been shown by years of research to improve lives across the board.
Gratitude leads to a more fulfilled life:
Robert A. Emmons, a psychologist from the University of California at Davis has been studying personality and the psychology of gratitude for over 30 years. A study by Dr. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami found that even if you are not a generally grateful person, you can start “training your brain” by keeping a gratitude journal. Once a week, write briefly about 5 things for which you feel grateful. Suggestions include a friend’s generosity, something you’ve learned, a sunset you enjoyed.
6 Health Benefits to Practicing Gratitude
- 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 (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
- 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 others.
- 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 to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison.
- Participants practicing daily gratitude 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.
- In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, 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.
- Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
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Live Well, with Gratitude for Every Day!