‘If you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness.’
The simple act of feeling (!) grateful and expressing it has a strong impact on health, well-being and relationships.
A series of recent studies have found positive effects on physical and emotional health.
Grateful is a feeling
But………. it is not about saying or thinking the ‘thank you’ on automatic pilot. What is essential is the emotion that goes with it. A deeply felt gratitude is what will benefit you. Just automatically blurring out the ‘thanks’ won’t have the same effect as paying conscious attention to it. Feel it and express it.
Scientific research gratitude
The scientific gratitude hero is professor Robert Emmons, who has proven that gratefulness inspires happiness.
In one study (conducted by Robert Emmons – University of California – and Mike McCullough – University of Miami), randomly assigned participants were given one of three tasks. Each week, participants kept a short journal. One group briefly described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another five recorded daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints and also did more exercise per week.
The art of gratitude: Daily gratitude practice
In a later study by Emmons, people were asked to write every day about things for which they were grateful. The daily practice led to greater increases in gratitude than the weekly journaling in the first study. And there was another benefit: participants in the gratitude group also reported offering others more emotional support or help with a personal problem.
Not only helps gratitude your own well-being, but it also helps others.
Conclusion: notice what to be thankful for, feel it and express it, verbally or on paper as weekly journaling and become healthier and happier.
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