Being grateful seems like such a natural and instinctive response, it can hard to believe that there’s a science to it.
The results of this experiment showed that if you're going through "a particularly tough time" you're more likely to benefit from this exercise. That's got to be music to the ears of anyone going through a divorce!
Watch this video and then pick up a pen and write a letter, or call someone.
Guaranteed to change their day ... and yours!
Why is gratitude so powerful?
Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions.
Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret—emotions that can destroy our happiness.
Gratitude makes us look outside ourselves. Gratitude is an ‘emotion complex’ (like guilt or shame) that implies a connection with others. When we feel grateful, we’re realising that outside forces – friends, families, the kindness of strangers, the ‘universe’ (or even a higher power if that’s what you believe in) – are working to help us achieve good things in our lives.
Gratitude heightens our sense of self-worth. Think about it – if this complex network is working so hard to enhance your enjoyment of life, then they must really value you., which can change the way you see yourself.
Gratitude is motivating. Research shows grateful people take better care of themselves, exercise more regularly and are more helpful, generous and compassionate.
Gratitude is self-perpetuating. The more you notice, the happier you are, which makes you more open to noticing stuff to be grateful for.
Benefits of gratitude
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
Grateful people are more stress resistant.
There’s a number of studies showing that in the face of serious trauma, adversity, and suffering if people have a grateful disposition, they’ll recover more quickly. Perhaps it is because gratitude gives people a perspective, a basis of acceptance and a comparison, from which they can interpret negative life events and help them guard against post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety.
Simple concept but not always easySource: Greater Good Magazine
Just because gratitude is good doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Practising gratitude can be at odds with some deeply ingrained psychological tendencies.
One is the “self-serving bias.” That means that when good things happen to us, we say it’s because of something we did, but when bad things happen, we blame other people or circumstances.
Gratitude really goes against the self-serving bias because when we’re grateful, we give credit to other people for our success. We accomplished some of it ourselves, yes, but we widen our range of attribution to also say, “Well, my parents gave me this opportunity.” Or, “I had teachers. I had mentors. I had siblings, peers—other people assisted me along the way.” That’s very different from a self-serving bias.
Gratitude also goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude, you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.
Finally, gratitude contradicts the “just-world” hypothesis, which says that we get what we deserve in life. Good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people. But it doesn’t always work out that way, does it? Bad things happen to good people and vice versa.
With gratitude comes the realization that we get more than we deserve. I’ll never forget the comment by a man at a talk I gave on gratitude. “It’s a good thing we don’t get what we deserve,” he said. “I’m grateful because I get far more than I deserve.”
This goes against a message we get a lot in our contemporary culture: that we deserve the good fortune that comes our way, that we’re entitled to it. If you deserve everything, if you’re entitled to everything, it makes it a lot harder to be grateful for anything.
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