Gratitude 102

Feeling it.

In the first article, we talked about the meaning of gratitude and thinking about it. This second level of gratitude – feeling thankful for anything be it small or something truly impacting your life. You can be thankful for someone who takes time to open the door for you, gives you space to change lanes on the highway, or a higher level of gratitude for someone who literally changes your life. Right now we are talking about the little things.

Recent studies have shown that gratitude is associated with benefits to subjective well-being (Emmons and McCullough, 20031; Froh et al., 20082), increased resilience to trauma (Kashdan et al., 20063) and benefits to social relationships (Algoe et al., 20084; Lambert et al., 20105).

Gratitude affects your brain in a ‘feel good’ way by increasing levels of oxytocin 6. You can remain in your grrrrrr state of mind and be angry about what you feel life is handing you or you can change your attitude…. Well yes, with gratitude. Even feeling gratitude for something small affects the pleasure centers in our brains.

What’s the point of all this?

Who cares, right? Well, let me tell you a bit about what happens even when you feel gratitude at the beginning.
your health improves!

  • mind clears of clutter and restlessness so your focus improves
  • you feel calm (God lives in the calm, in the silence)
  • your resilience to trauma improves 7
  • you have more energy!
  • and, oh my goodness, you feel happy!

Take the time to do the work.

You need to go through the steps to switch off the doom and gloom thoughts and switch on all those good feelings that come your way when you focus on gratitude instead.

Gratitude is a choice. One way to switch your thoughts toward gratitude is with a Gratitude Journal. You can buy one, or download a free journal here.

Spend time each day and feel the gratitude!

Remember the amazing things from your life, special places you visited, people who positively impacted your life, events that helped mold you… and be grateful. Feel it. No cheating now, if you don’t feel the gratitude, writing things in a journal won’t help.

Take the time to write how you feel at the beginning of your journal and again in a month. Check out the difference! Before long, whenever you begin to feel a grrrrrr coming on, you will remember to shift into gratitude instead!

1Emmons R., McCullough M. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 84, 377–389. 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377

2Froh J., Sefick W., Emmons R. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: an experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. J. Sch. Psychol. 46, 213–233. 10.1016/j.jsp.2007.03.005

3Kashdan T., Uswatte G., Julian T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in vietnam war veterans. Behav. Res. Ther. 44, 177–199. 10.1016/j.brat.2005.01.005

4Algoe S., Haidt J., Gable S. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion 8, 425–429. 10.1037/1528-3542.8.3.425

5Lambert N., Clark M., Durtschi J., Fincham F., Graham S. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude. Psychol. Sci. 21, 574–580. 10.1177/0956797610364003

6Algoe S. B., Way B. (2014). Evidence for a role of the oxytocin system, indexed by genetic variation in cd38, in the social bonding effects of expressed gratitude. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. 12:nst182. 10.1093/scan/nst182

7Kashdan, T., Uswatte, G., and Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in vietnam war veterans. Behav. Res. Ther. 44, 177–199. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2005.01.005

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