In today’s world, scientists like Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons have found that as gratitude becomes a true and conscious target in a person’s life, emotional and physical health will improve. Even more interesting is the fact that an individual’s health will ameliorate at a higher level than it does in those who do not make thankfulness a priority in their lives.
The Chopra Center website has posted a listing of the benefits for those who were part of a study measuring the gratitude levels of the participants and the results of their focus on being thankful in all things. The list includes these findings for the grateful subjects:
- increased happiness and joy
- more optimism
- an uptick in joie de vivre
- fewer health problems
- more likelihood to adopt healthy activities
- more centeredness, enthusiasm, and resolution
- more achievement of targeted goals
- better quality of sleep/feeling rested
- greater ability to weather difficult times
- better connection with family
- more altruism
- less anxiety
It seems that when spending time being appreciative, the ego gets out of the way so that the soul can have more room to make miracles.
So, if the ability to recognize those things in people’s lives for which they should be grateful has not been cultivated, how can they re-program themselves to be more in tune with his present blessings?
“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, and Other Christmas Writings
To help people learn to recognize their blessings, experts have suggestions for ways to train minds to focus on being grateful. In an article in the Huffington Post, written by the psychologist, Dr. Randy Kamen, he discusses several directives that can increase an individual’s “thankfulness quotient.”
Dr. Kamen, along with leaders in many of the world’s religions, suggest keeping what has come to be known as a “thankfulness journal.” The activity is simple and requires only that one write down each day the things for which he or she is grateful. The idea is to write at least three events, experiences, actions, or sights that evoked thankfulness.
According to research, writing the experiences actually increases one’s enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and even energy levels, especially as measured against those who kept such a journal centered on negative experiences they had encountered each day.
Even after just two weeks of keeping a happiness journal, many of the benefits mentioned can be experienced and will continue to be present in a person’s life for six months to come.
Other activities that can nurture the gratitude habit, says Kevin Eikenberry, leadership expert and Chief Potential Officer of the Kevin Eikenberry Group, are pointed out in his article on SuccessConsciousness.com.
- At any time, make a mental listing of what is positive in your life, let the blessings stream over you, and share your gratitude with those you encounter.
- If you have the opportunity to thank someone, or if someone comes to mind who needs to be affirmed, do it as soon as possible.
Eikenberry says that making thankfulness a habit will strengthen one’s ability to stay in this state-of-mind. The habit will improve people and those around them in ways that may not be seen in that moment but will be noticed emerging as they become more and more grateful.