Thanksgiving is a great time to think about and feel gratitude but let’s not stop there. There are many benefits to the habit of gratitude. Current research has shown that people who feel and show their gratitude are living happier lives. In this series of blog posts we’ll explore ways that you can develop the habit.
The Gratitude List
Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to write down at least five things for which you are grateful. Imagine a world where the newspapers and news shows focused on all the good things that happen instead of the “newsworthy” bad events. It’s not hard to imagine that it would have a dramatically different impact on the people reading and watching. Changing your personal focus from the things that are going wrong to the things that are going right has a similar effect.
Robert A. Emmons, University of California, Davis and Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami are conducting a research project on gratitude and thankfulness. They found that 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. They also were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals. The control groups in the experiment kept journals of neutral life events or of the hassles they experienced (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). See http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/labs/emmons/ for additional research results on gratitude and thankfulness.
Let us know your experiences with a gratitude journal or list and check back this week for additional ideas.