Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

Did you know that expressing gratitude can improve the quality of your health and even add years to your life expectancy? Robert Emmons a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis is a leading researcher in the field of “positive psychology”. His research supports the theory that those who develop an “attitude of gratitude” can experience a wide variety of health benefits.  

Emmons’ findings, along with those from other researchers such as Lisa Aspinwall, a professor at the University of Utah, and Dr. Lyubomirsky, from the University of California at Riverside, suggest that grateful people may be more likely to:

  • better cope with stress and trauma
  • get more regular exercise
  • eat a healthier diet
  • have improved mental alertness
  • be able to diminish feelings of anger, bitterness or greed
  • feel happier and more optimistic
  • experience a higher level of self-esteem
  • have stronger immune systems

Learning how to express gratitude and feel happier is key. Here are some tips to help you tap into health and happiness:

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Give thanks on a daily basis by writing down 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for. If you can’t find the time to write daily; try recording your thoughts weekly. Or consider keeping a “gratitude jar” and write thankful thoughts on slips of paper all year long and place in there.

2. Develop an “attitude of gratitude”

Your attitude helps determine how grateful you feel when facing life’s challenges. The next time you find yourself facing a challenge, flip your thinking from negative to positive to experience a higher level of gratitude and satisfaction. For example, if your flight is delayed, try to find the positives – perhaps you can settle in with a cup of coffee and a good book or maybe it’s the first time all day where you can sit down, relax and just people watch.

3. Be mindful of what you have

At times, it’s easy to fall into the “if only” trap. The next time you find your thoughts wandering in that direction, hit the pause button. Stop and take stock of the things that you DO have to be grateful for. We can be thankful for family, a roof over our head, or even a warm winter coat. Gratefulness comes from learning to be thankful for the things that you do have – big and small.

4. Mix up your gratitude practice

There are many ways to tap into and share your grateful feelings. Whether you journal, paint, sing or share to others to express gratitude – mix it up! Varying the ways in which we express thankfulness keeps it a constant and fresh practice. 

What are you grateful for? Please share in our comments section!

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