Yesterday there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits to being grateful. Today I traced the article and the research to see what is out there on gratefulness, giving that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all. Kurt, UVM Extension annual fund guy and I took the Gratitude Questionnaire at lunch. Seems like we both passed and since we are both pretty goal oriented, makes sense that gratitude is part of the mix.
So I guess when my grandmother said to “count your blessings” she was right, research says so. Sometimes it is really difficult to get into that positive space. Illness, injury, job worries, low milk prices, hardship and heartache can certainly take the toll on our ability to perform our work. Long term stress can have negative effects on our health. Enough about that.
Thanksgiving Day allows us to take a break from the stress and strife and focus on that the things that are working or joyful in our lives. But how do we carry that feeling along with us to benefit from grateful thinking?
- In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
- A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
- A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
- Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.
- In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.
- Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Enjoy the day.