Expressing Gratitude: The Hidden Power of Being Grateful
Written April, 2018 
One of my goals is to make a conscious effort to express GRATITUDE more often.  

Three decades ago, Martin Seligman and colleagues launched the field of “Positive Psychology“. Here began the scientific study into emotions such as gratitude, optimism, forgiveness, happiness, compassion and altruism. At the time, this was a revolutionary idea in the field of psychology since most of the data about human emotion had previously focused on “negative psychology” such as mental illness, trauma, addiction and stress.

What we have learned is that cultivating personal attributes fortifies us during times of adversity and emotional turmoil and leads to greater happiness and resilience. Moreover, of all the attributes one can develop, gratitude is most strongly associated with mental health.

Gratitude is our emotion that relates to our ability to feel and express thankfulness and appreciation. Traditionally, the study of this emotion has been relegated to the fields of theology and philosophy. In 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude through a psychological lens. He found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting.

Expressing Gratitude can lead to...

Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being

Greater optimism and happiness

Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises

Increased self-esteem

Heightened energy levels

Strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure

Improved emotional and academic intelligence

Expanded capacity for forgiveness

Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches

Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise

Heightened spirituality — ability to see something bigger than ourselves

How do we express Gratitude...

The most common method for cultivating gratitude is by keeping a “gratitude journal“ and recording experiences for which one is grateful. The idea is to write about at least three positive experiences on a daily basis. Examples include taking notice of something in nature, an object of beauty, a pleasant conversation with a friend, a good cup of coffee or helping someone with a problem.

Recording these positive experiences boosts levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy, especially when compared to those who recorded or focused on negative events. Our days rarely go according to plan or without unexpected challenges. Some of us can naturally appreciate the sweet moments as they happen throughout the day, while many of us need to cultivate this sense of appreciation.

Research shows that recording experiences for which one is grateful for only two consecutive weeks has lasting positive effects sustained for up to six months. It therefore behooves us to keep a gratitude journal.

Why wait any longer?  Start now by expressing gratitude more often. Build up some momentum now that you can use to finish off the year strong.

Dedicated To Your Success

Andrew Hamel MS, CSCS

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