Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Gee, Thanks!

Image result for thanksgiving table creative commonsWith last week being Thanksgiving week here in the states, I thought it was a good time to focus on gratitude. I like to think that in general, I'm a pretty grateful person. When I get more green lights than red, or an item I need from the store is unexpectedly on sale, I usually feel a little flicker of gratitude. But I'm not really sure I have built it solidly into my daily life. Sometimes, it's barely more than a mental blip as I move from one thing to the next.

True gratitude is more than saying thank you when someone holds a door--although good manners are a great place to start. According to world-renowned gratitude guru Robert Emmons, gratitude has two important parts: the affirmation of goodness, and the recognition that the goodness comes from outside our selves. “I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion,“ he writes, “because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

Researchers who study the effects of gratitude credit the practice with:
  • Improved physical health, such as fewer aches and pains;
  • Improved psychological health via the reduction of toxic emotions;
  • Better sleep, empathy and self-esteem
  • Less anger, aggression, and anxiety. 
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley reports that writing in a gratitude journal three times a week has significant positive effects. I did it every day last week, and my only rules were that I had to write five things each day, and I couldn't use the same one twice. Occasionally, that stumped me, because I am grateful every day for things such as family and health. So I had to dig a little deeper and include the small (I got my aunt's Thanksgiving card mailed on time, for example) with the large (no one got hit by space debris). This isn't a very elegant analogy, but I discovered that gratitude is kind of like lint--the more you look for it, the more you will find. But unlike lint, it makes life better!

I will definitely keep this one as a Take It. For anyone who's interested in starting gratitude journal practice, I suggest taking a look at the GGSC's 9 tips.

Thank you for stopping by, and happy December!

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  1. I'm not into journalling, so this would be a leave it for me. But I think I am a reasonably grateful person, much in the way you described.

    1. I don't journal, either. This was much more like making a grocery list!