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
- sleep better
- experience a higher level of self-esteem
- be less self-centered
- 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 them in there. This makes for a wonderful New Year’s Eve tradition of reviewing the year past and giving thanks for all of your blessings!
2. Surround yourself with motivational quotes and inspirational things. More often than not, our attitude is directly reflective of the stimuli we let into our lives. Let in the positive things. If you feel happier, more optimistic and engaged, you’ll feel more content with your surroundings and situation.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Use the power of words. If you use positive comments and phrases throughout your day, you will feel more peaceful and grateful. Eliminate the negative phrases from your vocabulary and frame your comments in a more positive light. Show your gratitude to others often by saying “thank you” or by offering a smile. You’ll feel better as will the recipient!
6. Mix up your gratitude practice. There are many ways to tap into and share your grateful feelings. Whether you journal, paint, sing or volunteer to express gratitude – mix it up! Varying the ways in which we acknowledge and express thankfulness keeps it a constant and fresh practice.
Allowing more gratitude into your life may have a positive impact on your life: personally, professionally, in your relationships with others and with your health. Start living a more grateful life today!
What are you grateful for? Please share in our comments section!
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