Rob Buckingham's Blog

An Attitude of Gratitude

Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods and our relationships.  As doctors Blaire and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Centre, "a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits."

Out of recent studies where group one was encouraged to focus daily on things they were grateful for, and group two focused on things that displeased them, the "gratitude" group:

* Felt better about their lives
* Were 25% happier
* Reported fewer health complaints
* Exercised, on average, one and a half hours more
* Were more likely to offer emotional support or help others who were facing a personal problem (i.e. gratitude increased their goodwill towards others)
* Reported more hours of sleep each night and were more refreshed when they awoke.
* Experienced more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, were more optimistic about the future, and were more connected with others.
* Were less likely to feel depressed (several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude)

Dr John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for two decades. The conclusion of all that research is that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it is likely the marriage will end.  The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expression of appreciation and gratitude).  Now there's something to practice!

"If you've forgotten the language of gratitude, you'll never be on speaking terms with happiness," so here are three simple things you can start practicing in order to develop an attitude of gratitude:

1. Keep a daily journal of three things you are grateful for. This works really well just before you go to bed.
2. Make it a practice to tell your spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day.
3. Look in the mirror while you're brushing your teeth and think about something you have done well or something you like about yourself.

When you cultivate an attitude of gratitude things don't just look better – they actually get better.  Thankfulness feels good, it's good for you and it's a blessing for the people around you too.

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