What is Gratitude?
World Leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, states that gratitude has two key components.
First, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.
The second part of gratitude, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves” … We acknowledge that other people, or even higher powers if you’re of a spiritual mindset, gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.
So, why do we need it?
The Greater Good Science Center outlined several benefits of gratitude in a paper titled, “The Science of Gratitude” (2018).
As well, when a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine releases, thus making a connection between the behavior and feeling good. The more a person practices gratitude, the more often dopamine releases.
Those all seem like really important reasons for gratitude, especially in this day and age where we are bombarded with negative and fear based messages.
The science of gratitude
In a study by Wong & Brown (2017), showing gratitude is not merely saying, “thank you.” it affects us mentally and physically.
Their study involved assigning students into three groups:
Group one wrote a letter of gratitude to another person every week for three weeks.
Group two wrote about their thoughts and feelings about negative experiences.
Group three didn’t write anything.
All three groups received counseling services. Group one reported “significantly better mental health” at the 4 and 12 weeks check ins after the intervention ended. Their findings also suggest that a combined gratitude practice/counseling approach is more beneficial than counseling alone.
The researchers analyzed their findings to figure out how gratitude has these effects. They determined that gratitude does four things:
In another study by Bartlett & DeSteno (2006) they found there is a positive relationship between kind, helpful behavior, and feeling grateful.
Throughout three studies they determined,
An eminent scholar in this field, Robert Emmons (2010), makes the argument that gratitude allows a person to:
Advantages of Keeping a Daily Gratitude Journal
One of the most popular gratitude exercises is the daily gratitude journal. One study found that materialism among adolescents decreased when they implemented this practice. Participants also donated 60% more money to charity
In a second study, they found that a weekly gratitude letter was associated with better eating habits. The teens in this study also experienced fewer negative emotions during the intervention period, which spanned four weeks.
Gratitude journaling has also been proven to reduce inflammation in people who have experienced Stage B, asymptomatic heart failure.
10 Things You Can Do to Realize Gratitude Benefits
How will you start your gratitude practice?
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