Friday, July 3, 2015

Gratitude is Good for you

Reposted from archetypes
Gratitude is good for our bodies, minds, and relationships, says Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. In public-speaking engagements he spreads the word that “gratitude has the power to heal, energize and change lives.” 
Emmons defines gratitude in two ways. First, gratitude is the affirmation of goodness. Second, it is the acknowledgement of the source of that goodness. There is a difference between a short-term feeling of gratitude — saying “thank you” — and fundamentally orienting your life around it. That entails complexity and depth, Emmons says. A grateful person views the entirety of life as a gift, and that encompasses adversity. The ungrateful person, on the other hand, “looks at life through the ‘lens of scarcity’ — that life is a burden.”
Gratitude prompts positive behavior. “We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80,” Emmons says, “and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits.” Here is a sampling: 
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated
Emmons suggests these 10 steps for becoming a more grateful person:
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy.
2. Remember the bad.
To be grateful, it is helpful to remember the hard times you have experienced.
3. Ask yourself three questions.
Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
4. Learn prayers of gratitude.
In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful, because through these prayers people recognize the ultimate source of all they are and all they will ever be.
5. Come to your senses.
Through our senses — the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear — we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. 
6. Use visual reminders.
Because the two primary obstacles to a grateful mindset are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. 
7. Make a vow to practice gratitude.
Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
8. Watch your language.
Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that acknowledges gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. 
9. Go through the motions.
If you go through grateful motions (smiling, expressing thanks, and writing letters of gratitude), the emotion of gratitude should be triggered.
10. Think outside the box.
If you want to make the most out of opportunities to “hone your gratitude skills,” you must creatively look for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful.