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What can gratitude do for you?

While celebrating Thanksgiving, eating turkey, yams, pumpkin pie, and all the countless other traditional treats, don’t forget to reflect on the REAL meaning of Thanksgiving. No, not the original picturesque meeting between pioneers and native Americans with corn on the cob and an enormous cornucopia, I mean the meaning of GRATITUDE.

I’ve found a few articles about the benefits of gratitude, and it is truly remarkable that simply cultivating this “attitude of gratitude” can do so many things to improve the overall quality of life.

Here are three articles I’ll cite–but I HIGHLY recommend you read them as well:

Borenstein writes, “While it seems pretty obvious that gratitude is a positive emotion, psychologists for decades rarely delved into the science of giving thanks. But in the last several years they have, learning in many experiments that it is one of humanity’s most powerful emotions. It makes you happier and can change your attitude about life, like an emotional reset button. Especially in hard times, like these.”

Borenstein goes on to quote  University of Miami psychology professor Michael McCullough, who has “studied people who are asked to be regularly thankful. “When you are stopping and counting your blessings, you are sort of hijacking your emotional system.” And he means hijacking it from out of a funk into a good place. A very good place”

How many of us are in a funk? We go through this life trying our best, and even though we try hard, do things the right way, sometimes the role of parenthood, or spouse, or friend can seem thankless. Sometimes we feel at work that we are under-appreciated, and no feeling is quite as persistent as despair–however mild it may feel.

While expressing gratitude takes the effort of digging through our brains to think of everything we are grateful for, followed up with expressing said gratitude, the effort of doing so is worth it. Cultivating and regularly reflecting on things we are grateful for not only provides psychological benefits, but it is linked to PHYSICAL benefits as well.

These studies have found that regularly expressing gratitude is linked to:

  1. Greater happiness and life satisfaction
  2. Higher quality relationships
  3. Less anxiety
  4. Improved physical health
  5. Greater likelihood of achieving goals
  6. Weight loss
  7. Easier time falling asleep
  8. Optimism

In Marostica’s article in the Deseret News, she outlines the idea of a “Gratitude Journal”.

“Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis studied the effects of gratitude by experimenting with the “gratitude journal.” According to the Times, he and fellow researcher Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami selected a group of subjects to simply record five things every week they were grateful for. After two months of this behavior, the study reports, “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based)” than those who did not.

The study also showed physical changes: the authors reported those keeping gratitude journals exercised more regularly and reported fewer physical symptoms.”


So now time to take action. Tonight I’m starting my “Gratitude Journal”, where I’ll list 5 things to be thankful for this coming week–and update them each week. I’ll reflect upon them daily, and send letters or thank you cards where necessary. During that time, I’ll do brief updates to see if it really provides the benefits from the above list.

What kind of help would I like? I have my job frustrations and challenges. I have some chronic back pain, and some difficulty achieving certain fitness and nutritional goals. I have terrible insomnia, and occasional anxiety. So yeah, I could use a few things on that list.

So we’ll see how this goes. I invite you all to join me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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1 Comment

  1. Why are entire call centers built to handle customer complaints, yet virtually no organized way to express thank you? « My thoughts exactly

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