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Boost Your Happiness With A Dash Of Gratitude

Boost Your Happiness With A Dash Of Gratitude

When was the last time you felt grateful? Scientists say it’s well worth the effort. Did you know that, according to studies, gratitude can make you happier? Furthermore, gratitude has been linked to sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, and higher long-term satisfaction with life. Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s see what a few psychologists say about the power of gratitude and then we’ll try it out for ourselves – a simple one minute exercise to cultivate an attitude of gratitude 🙂 Something you can try right now even if you’re reading this at work.



Gratitude Breeds Peace Of Mind

“The way you feel about your past is purely based on your memories. Gratitude works in developing life satisfaction because it underlines positive memories in intensity, frequency and association. You recall positive memories better, you remember them more frequently and you link positivity to the subjects and incidents, “ states Martin Seligman, Ph.D., one of the founders of positive psychology. “Negative thoughts about the past block the emotions of contentment and satisfaction and make peace impossible,” Seligman continues, in his book “Authentic Happiness”


Pay It Forward

According to a study by McCullough et al., people who experience gratitude behave more kindly towards others. People who experienced gratitude were motivated to repay their benefactors and even extend generosity to third parties. Another research article by Monica Bartlett and David DeSteno summarizes that gratitude “mediates pro-social behavior”.

It’s easy to understand that the emotion of gratitude feels good to experience, and that it may have positive effects that extend to a social level. But, what if gratitude is not a frequent emotional state for you? How do you get to experience more of it?


How To Cultivate Gratitude – “Gratitude Lite”


“If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.”
– Dr. Robert Emmons, in his book “Thanks!”

You can start with what Robert A. Emmons, of the University of California, calls “gratitude lite”. Dr. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough used this technique in their pioneering tests. The participants were instructed to keep a gratitude journal listing 5 things for which they felt grateful. Everyday things like a friend’s generosity, something they had learned, a sunset they’d enjoyed and so on. The journal was to be brief, listing just one sentence for each of the five things. Surprisingly the list was done just once a week. After two months there were significant effects. Compared with the control group, the people keeping the journal were more optimistic and felt happier. The group reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out. How about that?

This seems very simple – and it is. Fortunately, there are hundreds of things you can be grateful for any time you choose to think about it. That’s right, you just need to tune in. You know what? Try it right now. It takes just a minute or two. See how it makes you feel. Usually, I love to do my gratitude list in my mind just before going to sleep. But, let’s see, right now I’m grateful for my wife and her kindness, the roof over my head, the yummy breakfast I just had, my health, friends, the peace I feel right now, and the amazing sunrise this morning painting the sky in all those wonderful colors. That was easy, right? So, list 5 things, think about them and see how it makes you feel. The items can be something big or small. Do it now and see what emotions you associate with the state you create? According to Dr. Emmons most of us relate words like “peaceful”, “content”, “warm”, “giving”, “friendly”, and “joyful” with this emotional state.


– Pause here and do your list, spend a minute thinking about the items –


Well done! If you enjoyed this little exercise, then  go ahead and try it out for at least three to four weeks and see the change for yourself. I’ve done it and it works for me. Like said, I love to do it every night before bed. You can also cultivate gratitude with our meditation app. The third meditation in the app is called “Give me bliss” and it guides you through five powerful emotional states including gratitude, loving kindness and joy.

Want to learn more about the power of gratitude? Then you should get Dr. Robert Emmons’ wonderful book. For full disclosure you should know that I recently joined the Amazon affiliate program and I’ll get a small cut should you buy the book via this link, the price remains the same. The below link will take you to Amazon: Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier




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