The field of positive psychology looks to enhance good health with a focus on traits and behaviors that cultures through time have valued as worthy or virtuous. The practice of gratitude is a good example.
Working with two different clients recently, I became aware of how their sense of gratitude seemed to be helping them feel better. I found some great points from a research project on gratitude and thankfulness at the website: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/labs/emmons/. Here are a few points made by the authors.
People who routinely seek reasons to be grateful experience negative feelings like anyone else, but those negative emotions are less likely to result in depressed mood or severe stress. Gratitude appears to enhance positive emotions such as enthusiasm, optimism, and life satisfaction.
Some ways to enhance gratitude?
- Play a “gratitude game.” Spend one minute trying to name as many things as you can to be grateful for, from the smallest convenience (a pen and paper) to the larger than life (a beautiful sunset).
- Keep a weekly gratitude journal. Write an entry in a journal about something that makes you grateful and why. Consider how that person or thing or event enhances your life.
- Say “thanks.” Seek out reasons to say thank you and remember to say it. It might be a quick thanks to someone on the street, a heartfelt note, or a morning prayer.
What are some ways that you express gratitude?
Photo courtesy of eekim