Word-Of-the-Week #695: Reciprocity

November 30, 2017 by  

Reciprocity – what you receive as a result of what you give or do.

What goes around comes around! What you give out it is what you will get back. What message are you sending to the universe? One of giving or taking?

This is the second half of “Why gratitude is so good” by Arlene Dawson.

The importance of gratitude goes beyond a picture-perfect Thanksgiving tableau. Many experts believe that feeling grateful is also beneficial to your health.

“Gratitude is good medicine,” says Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and founding editor in chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology. Studies show that practicing gratitude can be used to help lower blood pressure, stop smoking and reduce stress.

Here are her last 5 reasons why it’s beneficial to cultivate an attitude of gratitude year round, not just at Thanksgiving:

  1. Fosters a sense of community – The thread of life can unravel very quickly, so we need memories of how we’ve been supported and sustained by other people,” Emmons says. For instance, if a hospital took good care of your spouse, you may be motivated to donate money to help build a new cancer wing. “So much of life is about giving, receiving, repaying benefits; that’s why gratitude is so foundational and fundamental to human beings and to social life. … It’s a cycle of reciprocity.”
  1. Helps fend off depression – Practicing gratitude is linked to more resilience and optimism, Emmons says, recalling one study that found that counting blessings and “gratitude letter writing” reduced the risk of depression in patients by 41% over six months.
  1. Makes you a better spouse – Rather than focusing on “negative attributions” or what you don’t like about your mate, “Focus on what your partner is good at,” Emmons says. With any luck, that praise and affirmation might inspire him or her to improve other aspects of the relationship.
  1. Makes you a better boss and manager – Managers who express gratitude have more productive employees. In turn, “Grateful employees are better employees. They’re more engaged … more efficient,” Emmons says.
  1. Increases life satisfaction for kids – “The way you couch it to kids is: Be on the hunt for the good,” Froh says. “Kids who are grateful have better relationships growing up, increased happiness and life satisfaction, more emotional and social support, get higher grades, do better in school, are less envious and less materialistic.”

This week is all about the law of reciprocity. Who is the most supportive person in your life? Have you repaid the benefit of that? How often are you “on the hunt for the good?” Because the more you do that, the more “good things” will happen!

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Here are a few resources to help you get started on your gratitude journey:

Gratefulness.org, which was co-founded by Catholic Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, now 91

–The popular TED talk “Want to be happy? Be grateful,” also by Steindl-Rast

–The Ted.com gratitude playlist

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and its Greater Good magazine

–“Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier” by Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis



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