By Patti Clark
Gratitude is a hot topic these days, almost to the point of being overdone. Sometimes it feels like people talking about happiness and gratitude has become today’s ‘smiley face button’ from the ‘70s.
But gratitude is important, many believe that gratitude is the key to happiness. Major studies have shown that gratitude impacts life is very significant ways. One of the findings proves that an attitude of gratitude helps you to grow your awareness of the good things in life and overcome the brain’s negativity bias, which tends to spot what is wrong before it notices what is right.
Interestingly, several recent surveys concluded that we get happier as we age, and that it is in our mid-50s that people are most content with their lives.
And these surveys point to the fact that gratitude plays a key role with this contentment.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis , is considered the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. Emmons lists several compelling reasons why we should practice gratitude on a daily basis. His study surveyed more than one thousand people, from ages eight to eighty, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report benefits in three key areas:
- Physical: stronger immune systems; less bothered by aches and pains; lower blood pressure; and sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking.
- Psychological: higher levels of positive emotions; more alert, alive, and awake; more joy and pleasure; more optimism and happiness.
- Social: more helpful; generous, and compassionate; more forgiving; more outgoing; feel less lonely and isolated.
So if we accept that gratitude does indeed improve our health and positively impact many aspects of our life, how can we actually begin practicing gratitude on a daily basis? Actually it’s simple, not necessarily easy as it does take focus, but relatively simple.
A wonderful website called Greater Good, out of the University of California, Berkeley, lists a few ways to help you focus on gratitude each day:
Keep a gratitude journal: Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of all the things you are thankful for.
Use visual reminders: The two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, so visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude.
Make a conscious decision to practice gratitude: Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that it will happen.
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. Zig Ziglar
About the Author:
Patti Clark is an accomplished speaker and workshop leader dedicated to helping people through various life transitions on their journey to an extraordinary life. For more than 30 years, and over several continents, Patti has been sharing her knowledge and wisdom with others. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, has a B.A. in Social Sciences from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Education. She has taught English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and at Oregon State University. Patti spends part of her time in the United States, and part of her time in New Zealand and is the author of the new book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life. She and her husband and their two sons live near the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.