Word Of the Week #539: Gratitude

December 4, 2014 by  

Gratitude – a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation.

How often do you feel a sense of gratitude? Are you thankful for what you have? Do you appreciate your life and the people in it?

Last week the San Diego UT ran this article by Erinn Hutkin titled, Gratitude has positive effects on health.” She writes, “For many families, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on and share what they are grateful for. Those good feelings that are often shared during the holidays can have a positive impact on one’s health – especially when people recognize what they’re grateful for year round.

Gratitude is a “Velcro” for all sorts of good things in life – emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual,” says Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and the author of “Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity.”

He ran a study where participants kept a list of a few things they were grateful for and found they tended to exercise more, had more energy and vitality, and were less bothered by pain. He also said grateful people sleep 30 minutes more each night and exercise 33% more each week.

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There are also links between gratitude and cholesterol, blood pressure and other biomarkers. In addition, in Emmons’ study, those who kept track of their blessings reported greater well-being and optimism. They also had more attentiveness, enthusiasm, and determination.

Emmons’ goes on to say, “Gratitude is an affirmation of the goodness in one’s life and the recognition that the sources of the goodness lie at least partially outside of the self. Virtually any experience can potentially produce gratitude. That’s partly want gives it its power. Gratitude boosts a person’s positive emotions because it’s incompatible with many feelings that increase worry and anxiety. You cannot be grateful and envious, or grateful and resentful, or grateful while harboring regrets.

Gratitude can also help us when life challenges us. When things are going badly, it provides a perspective by which we can view life in its entirety, and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances.

This week is all about gratitude! Would you like to have more energy and/or better health? Would you like to feel closer and more connected to the people in your life? Have you ever written a list of the things you’re grateful for? How many people have you told, “I am so thankful you are in my life?”

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