Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow – Melody Beattie
Appreciating others and saying thank you is good for your health and peace of mind.A large body of research on positive psychology and happiness suggests that developing an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being.
Recent research indicates that people who frequently feel grateful have increased energy, more optimism, increased social connections and more happiness than those that do not. Grateful people are less likely to be anxious, depressed, self-absorbed and greedy or suffer from substance abuse. They are economically better off, sleep better, exercise more regularly, and are more resilient.
The research is part of the “positive psychology” movement which focuses on strengths.Cultivating gratitude is a form of cognitive -behavioral therapy focusing on changing peoples’ thought patterns which can positively affect their moods.
As simple as it sounds, gratitude is actually a complex emotion that requires self-reflection, humility and empathy for others. Being grateful requires a shift in mind-set from negativity and blaming others focusing on problems, annoyances or perceived injustices to appreciating and giving credit to others.
Gratitude is essentially being aware of and thankful for the good things in our lives. We consider the things for which we are grateful; we count our “blessings.”
Psychological research indicates that the experience of gratitude makes us happy, and that the regular experience of gratitude can actually enable us to elevate our typical level of happiness in a sustained way. It takes regular practice to become a healthy habit.
Imagine intentionally focusing on the things in your life for which you are grateful. These might include significant relationships, your own achievements, or the contributions others have made in helping you accomplish your goals, small kindnesses from loved ones or even just the experience of sitting quietly for a while without the intrusion of your phone or Blackberry.
Gratitude increases well-being because it promotes the savoring of positive experiences. When we contemplate our “blessings” we squeeze the most out of these experiences. We stop taking things for granted and notice small things with a sense of wonder and appreciation. Gratitude allows us to get the most from the good things in our lives.
Count Your Blessings
Gratitude is quite simply an attitude or conscious choice.The one thing we can always choose each day, in any situation, is our attitude. We always have the ability to choose an attitude of gratitude.
Research demonstrates that people who experience relatively more positive emotions (joy, love, confidence) than negative (anger, fear, anxiety) are more successful and accomplished in various areas of their lives.
Enjoy more satisfying and longer marriages
Develop more close friendships
Build more cooperative, charitable and helpful relationships
Earn higher income
Achieve more productivity at work
Get better work performance evaluations
Receive better manager ratings
Engage in richer social interactions
Express more self-confidence
Create more resilience
Demonstrate more creativity
Experience more energy and “flow”
Exude better physical health
Live longer lives
Psychological research indicates that these characteristics are not simply associated with happiness. Experiencing more positive emotion actually leads to this success.
You might consider using the present moment as an opportunity for such an experiment.Here are seven methods that research indicates can have sustained positive effects:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Note one to three good things that happened during the day and be specific. Post your intention on Facebook or Twitter.There’s even an iPod app for gratitude journaling!
- Find a “gratitude accountability buddy”. Swap gratitude lists with a friend or co-worker; acknowledging where gratitude is due will keep it from sounding like bragging.
- Watch your language. Using disparaging self-talk reinforces negative thinking. Don’t gossip.
- Practice mindfulness. Several times a day, pause and focus on the sounds, smells, touches around you.
- Take the time to savor all experiences. Smell the coffee and roses.
- Count your blessings not sheep when going to sleep. Review events and people to be grateful for and let go of the rest.
- Go on a gratitude visit. Write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who has made a positive difference in your life, but whom you never properly thanked.
Creating an attitude of gratitude at home and work can make everyone happier. Even small boosts in positive emotions can make life more fulfilling and satisfying and the world a more peaceful place.
Thank You for Your Readership!
Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for senior leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders develop a more sustainable business? Expressing gratitude and appreciation helps enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees.
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I regularly express gratitude and say thank you?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for collaborative leaders who create sustainable businesses.
By Andrew Clapton