Gratitude has always been a central tenet of spiritual philosophy. Many religions advocate thankfulness as a way to achieve well-being of the soul. But science is catching up with the spiritual and is now investigating the benefits of saying ‘thank you’.
Robert Emmons, psychology professor at University of California, has been researching the effects of practicing gratitude for over 10 years. The results of his studies indicate that giving thanks is good for you.
In one study, Emmons gave each participant a diary in which to make weekly notes. He then divided the participants into two groups. The first group were instructed to record five things for which they were grateful during the week. The second group logged five things that annoyed or irritated them. After 10 weeks, the two groups (plus a third, control group) took part in a series of tests designed to rate their health and well-being.
The results showed that the first group scored higher on the tests. They slept better, exercised more, had less illness, more energy and were generally more optimistic. In other words, they were happier.
The second group were less energetic, more prone to depression and more pessimistic; i.e., not so happy.
The tests showed that the first group had made positive moves towards achieving personal goals, whether work, relationship or health-related. They had also become more sociable, empathetic and helpful within their social peer-group. This group also proved to be less materialistic; they were less envious of others’ possessions and more generous with their own belongings.
What can you do to practice gratitude?
By practicing daily or weekly positive thoughts of gratitude, the Emmons studies show that you can raise your ‘base level’ of happiness. The tests indicate that this enhanced positive emotional state has a long-lasting effect on health and well-being.
Start a gratitude diary. A few minutes a week is all it takes. Note five things which you are thankful for. They can be as simple as watching a sunset or catching a train on time, or just being alive.
Write a gratitude letter to show appreciation to someone. You don’t have to send it. The act of writing it is enough to express your feeling of gratitude.
Make a collage or scrapbook to express things you are grateful for. Paste in photos, poems, a pressed flower, even a candy bar wrapper if you love chocolate!
Give a gift. Make a gift or find something in your home. A small gift of thanks to someone you appreciate can make their day – and yours!
What we’re grateful for
Here at Appleton Creative, we’re thankful for our beautiful new office, our hardworking team members, and of course, all our wonderful clients!Tags: Emmons, gratitude, Robert Emmons, spiritual philosophy