What is Gratitude?
This frankly painful way of thinking focuses on the negative, on what we don't yet have, on what we want. And we want more stuff, more experiences, more relationships, more positive personality traits.
When we think this way our mental health can be affected We lose sight of what we have and so begin to feel as if we are deprived. This results in unhappiness.
The Science of Gratitude
So, gratitude works by interrupting chronic feelings of dissatisfaction, by focusing on what we already have: on things we've already got, on people who already like, even love us, and on personality traits that we already display.
There is a wealth of research supporting the idea that gratitude is a major factor in support psychological well-being and happiness. Such research indicates the benefits of gratitude include:
- Increased happiness
- Better social life
- Improved physical health
- Improved emotional well-being
- Increased self-esteem
- Better sleep
- Less sickness
- More motivated
- Increased relaxation
- Improved productivity
Tips on Practising Gratitude
- Buy a notebook solely for the purpose of this exercise
- Every day, record at least three things you were grateful for that day. Include everything, like things, experiences, people, your own character traits, even services (like electricity!).
- Repeat every day for at least six months
- Continue the notebook to maintain benefits.
Yes, that's six months! Research suggests it takes this long to get the full benefit. And remember, keep the notebook solely for the purpose of gratitude. No shopping lists, no general journaling. Just gratitude. That way the brain associates the notebook solely with the frame of mind for gratitude. this makes it easier to think of things you're grateful for when you pick the gratitude diary up.
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Gratitude Works by Robert E. Emmons
This book guides you through a 21-Day program designed around gratitude, and aiming to improve your emotional well-being.
The book mixes scientific evidence with evidence-based applications and exercises to help you develop gratitude in your life and so improve your emotional well-being.
There is also some information on the religious, spiritual and philosophical origins of practising gratitude.
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Gratitude: A Daily Journal by Clare Joss
A daily journal to help you record the things you are grateful for.
Complete with prompts and inspiring quotes in case you get stuck.
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Secret Gratitude Book by Rhonda Byrne
A best-selling daily journal for use as a gratitude diary. The notebook also has a few pages of guidance and exercise suggestions.
A lovely cover!
What are you grateful for?