Gratitude

by Adrienne | October 25th, 2015

Readability

Gratitude

I posted last week about the pos­si­bil­ity that many peo­ple could be suf­fer­ing from post trau­matic stress disorder.

Those of us who are pay­ing atten­tion are more than likely to be stressed or unhappy.

I also men­tioned some pos­si­ble reme­dies to pur­sue. Let’s add some­thing else to your arse­nal; gratitude.

I have been read­ing a book about grat­i­tude. It’s prob­a­bly not the best book on the sub­ject, but it was enough to make me sit back and think a bit about the wis­dom of keep­ing a grat­i­tude journal.

Lis­ten up, men; this is for you, too. It’s just not a girlie thing, even though it sounds girlie. It sounds really super-​duper girlie when you start fling­ing around words like “jour­nal.” Girls, you may keep a jour­nal, and you guys can just keep a notebook.

Robert Emmons, pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, is one of the fore­most author­i­ties on the topic of grat­i­tude in North America.

Emmons even wrote a book about grat­i­tude based on many years of sci­en­tific study.

Emmons’ research indi­cates that grat­i­tude is not merely a pos­i­tive emo­tion; it also improves your health if cul­ti­vated. Peo­ple must give up a “vic­tim men­tal­ity” and over­come a sense of enti­tle­ment and deservedness.

As a result, he says, they will expe­ri­ence sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in sev­eral areas of life includ­ing rela­tion­ships, aca­d­e­mics, energy level and even deal­ing with tragedy and cri­sis. source

Grat­i­tude sim­ply means being thank­ful, or express­ing thanks for things or events.

For instance: We have a cat. She acts like a cat. Like most cats, she is always on the wrong side of the door. It can be annoy­ing to con­stantly have to open the door for her to come in or go out. So instead of being annoyed, I decided to be thank­ful that she has embraced her “cat­ness.” I’m dou­bly grate­ful that she doesn’t feel like she’s a dog trapped in a cat body and demand­ing expen­sive species reas­sign­ment surgery.

Grat­i­tude is about notic­ing things. How many of you men read­ing this really notice your magic under­wear drawer? You know, the one that always seems to be filled up with clean folded undies? Do you ever stop and ask your­self how they got there, and do you thank the per­son who was behind all that magic?

Dr. Emmons says that your grat­i­tude jour­nal doesn’t have to be fancy. He’s a guy. What the hell does he know? Ladies, feel free to unleash your inner crafter if you want, and make a daz­zling jour­nal. Guys, go buy a notebook.

I had planned on writ­ing down a few things each night for which I was grate­ful. But accord­ing to Emmons, that’s the wrong approach.

Here’s some research-​based tips for reap­ing the great­est psy­cho­log­i­cal rewards from your grat­i­tude journal:

  • Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psy­chol­o­gist Sonja Lyubomirsky and oth­ers sug­gest that jour­nal­ing is more effec­tive if you first make the con­scious deci­sion to become hap­pier and more grate­ful. “Moti­va­tion to become hap­pier plays a role in the effi­cacy of jour­nal­ing,” says Emmons.
  • Go for depth over breadth. Elab­o­rat­ing in detail about a par­tic­u­lar thing for which you’re grate­ful car­ries more ben­e­fits than a super­fi­cial list of many things.
  • Get per­sonal. Focus­ing on peo­ple to whom you are grate­ful has more of an impact than focus­ing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try sub­trac­tion, not just addi­tion. One effec­tive way of stim­u­lat­ing grat­i­tude is to reflect on what your life would be like with­out cer­tain bless­ings, rather than just tal­ly­ing up all those good things.
  • Savor sur­prises. Try to record events that were unex­pected or sur­pris­ing, as these tend to elicit stronger lev­els of gratitude.
  • Don’t overdo it. Writ­ing occa­sion­ally (once or twice per week) is more ben­e­fi­cial than daily jour­nal­ing. In fact, one study by Lyubomirsky and her col­leagues found that peo­ple who wrote in their grat­i­tude jour­nals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in hap­pi­ness after­ward; peo­ple who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to pos­i­tive events quickly, espe­cially if we con­stantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but it is how the mind works.”

Need more proof?

If you’re any­thing like me and want to research some­thing to death, here’s a link to a gazil­lion arti­cles in Psy­chol­ogy Today on gratitude.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I have to let the cat out.

Adri­enne is grate­ful to blog at Adrienne’s Cor­ner. Some day she plans to come out of her cor­ner and join the real world.

I posted last week about the possibility that many people could be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Those of us who are paying attention are more than likely to be stressed or unhappy.

I also mentioned some possible remedies to pursue.  Let’s add something else to your arsenal; gratitude.

I have been reading a book about gratitude.  It’s probably not the best book on the subject, but it was enough to make me sit back and think a bit about the wisdom of keeping a gratitude journal.

Listen up, men; this is for you, too. It’s just not a girlie thing, even though it sounds girlie.   It sounds really super-duper girlie when you start flinging around words like “journal.”  Girls, you may keep a journal, and you guys can just keep a notebook.

Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of gratitude in North America.

Emmons even wrote a book about gratitude based on many years of scientific study.

Emmons’ research indicates that gratitude is not merely a positive emotion; it also improves your health if cultivated. People must give up a “victim mentality” and overcome a sense of entitlement and deservedness.

As a result, he says, they will experience significant improvements in several areas of life including relationships, academics, energy level and even dealing with tragedy and crisis. source

Gratitude simply means being thankful, or expressing thanks for things or events.

For instance: We have a cat.  She acts like a cat.  Like most cats, she is always on the wrong side of the door. It can be annoying to constantly have to open the door for her to come in or go out.  So instead of being annoyed, I decided to be thankful that she has embraced her “catness.”   I’m doubly grateful that she doesn’t feel like she’s a dog trapped in a cat body and demanding expensive species reassignment surgery.

Gratitude is about noticing things.  How many of you men reading this really notice your magic underwear drawer?  You know, the one that always seems to be filled up with clean folded undies?  Do you ever stop and ask yourself how they got there, and do you thank the person who was behind all that magic?

Dr. Emmons says that your gratitude journal doesn’t have to be fancy.  He’s a guy. What the hell does he know?  Ladies, feel free to unleash your inner crafter if you want, and make a dazzling journal.   Guys, go buy a notebook.

I had planned on writing down a few things each night for which I was grateful.  But according to Emmons, that’s the wrong approach.

Here’s some research-based tips for reaping the greatest psychological rewards from your gratitude journal:

  • Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggest that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
  • Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
  • Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
  • Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
  • Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. In fact, one study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”

Need more proof?

If you’re anything like me and want to research something to death, here’s a link to a gazillion articles  in Psychology Today on gratitude.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me.  I have to let the cat out.

 

Adrienne is grateful to blog at Adrienne’s Corner. Some day she plans to come out of her corner and join the real world.

 

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