Amid the rush and excitement of our lives, it’s easy to forget to take a moment and notice the many blessings we enjoy every day. Even during difficult times, cultivating gratitude can be one of the best things we do for ourselves and those we love.
Being Grateful Pays Off
Research shows that, relative to people who don’t pay special attention to expressing gratitude,
- Grateful people are happier. They have positive feelings more frequently and more strongly. They talk about their lives with a greater sense of satisfaction and optimism. They have lower levels of depression and less stress. They are more likely to make progress toward important personal goals.
- Grateful people are healthier. When people start focusing on expressing gratitude, the amount of time they spend exercising goes up. They sleep longer and their sleep is more restful. They have more vitality, and fewer physical problems.
- Grateful people get more of what they want from life. People who focus on gratitude are more likely to make progress toward important personal goals, in areas such as work, school, relationships, and health.
- Grateful people have better relationships. John Gottman, Ph.D., an author and researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, says that expressing gratitude is one of the most important factors in a successful marriage or relationship. When people start looking for the blessings in their everyday lives, the people around them become happier.
Noticing What’s Good
Research in positive psychology has identified several methods by which people can feel happier and more satisfied with their lives. One method, proven to be especially effective, is “The Three Blessings.”
Put paper and a pen next to your bed, and just before you go to sleep, think about the past 24 hours. Jot down up to five things you are genuinely grateful for. The items can be simple, such as “waking up on time,” “talking with my friend,” or “hearing a good song on the drive to work.” Repeat this every night for two weeks.
Perhaps you think this exercise is too simple to make a difference. If so, you have a lot of company.
When Caroline Miller, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, first tried the exercise, she was skeptical, but gave it a try anyway.
“After the first night I was hooked,” she says. “I started with basic blessings like health, safety, and the love around me, but soon my list of daily blessings got longer and more diverse.”
She felt so good after two weeks that she decided to do it for a year.
“Now I find that I can easily spot blessings, all day, every day,” she says. “And I’m noticing that my attitude of awe and wonder has not only made me happier, it’s made the people around me happier too.”
Gratitude costs a hug, a few words of thanks, or a small kindness returned. Its benefits can change a moment, or the course of an entire life. As Albert Einstein said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Whether you want to improve your relationship or learn to feel happier in your life, we hope you have found this information useful. If you think counseling could help you reach your goals, we invite you to contact us to set up a free telephone consultation.