The Full Power Of Gratitude
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero
What are you grateful for?
That one question can be the difference between chasing happiness and being happy.
Scientific research led by the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, the author of “Thanks!: How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier” states that “Gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
This is important to understand how the power of gratitude can work in your life. It builds relationships and strengthens how we value others through appreciation. The more we appreciate things the more we will take it for granted.
This idea has been lost on the Millennial generation. We live in a world of selfishness and greed where everyone believe they have the right to have something and don’t see a need to be grateful for having it or even for being given it in the first place.
Dr. Emmons goes on to say that “Gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notices the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasure you get from life.”
As Christians, gratitude is at the top of our list in our value system. We give thanks to God for our lives, our families, our health, our jobs, and our friends. We understand that everything we have, even our happiness is a gift from God and the power of appreciation allows us to see the goodness of life instead of focusing on the things we don’t have.
How To Practice Gratitude Every Day
Being grateful is all about where you focus your thoughts on. When you stay positive, you are better equipped to practice gratitude for the events that happen but when your mind focuses on the negative aspects of life, you pull away from life and see only the bad things. Gratitude increases well-being and overall satisfaction with your life.
Understanding what our focus is on helps us control what we think about but remember, gratitude needs to be about the people we come in contact with everyday. Gratitude puts both people and situations into perspective. The more we are aware of the things happening all around us, the easier it is to complain about life.
Admit it. You complain about a variety of things during the day but how often are you grateful for what you have? How often do you voice your appreciation to your spouse, you children, your friends, co-workers or even strangers? The more you practice it the better off you will be. The more humble you will become and the more love you will be able to give.
When you watch, read or listen to the ws does it make you appreciate what you have and the situation you are in. Remember, it could always be a lot worse. We take things for granted and it warps our sense of being.
Too often we’re looking to acquire things and we forget to be thankful for what we already have. Turn it around and make a donation of the things you do have to those who are in need. This way you appreciate what you do have and make someone else happy in the process.
These two things go hand in hand. We speak of appreciation in one hand but then feel we’re not worthy on the other hand when we can’t have what we want. practicing gratitude allows us to count our blessings and live a life based on love and care instead of greed and selfishness.
Dr Emmons believes in keeping a gratitude journal to record the things in which we are grateful for. It’s a beautiful way to “Make the conscious effort to associate it with the word gift. he says.
In his article “Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal” Jason Marsh states, “The entire experience of gratitude—is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted. Perhaps that’s why the benefits seem to diminish when you start writing more than once per week, and why surprises induce stronger feelings of gratitude: It’s easy to get numb to the regular sources of goodness in our lives.”
Here Are 5 Ways To Practice Gratitude Everyday That Gets Results!
1- Smile – one smile can turn around any situation. You never know how a smile can light up another person’s heart. Smile’s are contagious and bring people together. Your smile tells others you are grateful for being in their presence. people will extend that same gratitude in return and that leads to our second way to practice gratitude.
2- Be Positive – No matter what you are feeling, stay positive. Being positive changes the energy in the room. Positive energy allows goodness, love and care to fill up any space. Negative energy pushes people away and brings on negative experiences, Celebrate goodness. Gratitude blocks toxic and negative emotions which destroy our search for peace and happiness. Research has found that gratitude reduces the frequency and duration of depression. This comes from a 2008 Study by psychologist Alex Wood from The journal Of Research In Personality entitled “The Role of Gratitude In the Development Of Social Support, Stress, and Depression: Two Longitudinal Studies.”
3- Recognize The Contributions Of Others – The more we recognize the contributions others make to both our lives and the world at large, the better we can see ourselves. People love to feel appreciated and should be but we don’t always make the effort to give it. Be genuine in your words, your heart and your actions and people will start appreciating your efforts.
4- Be A Giver, Not A Receiver – In Luke 6:38, it states: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” This how we should be living. Become a drop of rain that waters the world around you and the world will appreciate your goodness. Mother Teresa is my hero and she was always grateful to those she was helping in the slums of Calcutta. It was the sick and dying who helped her to grow closer to God. We cannot grower closer to God unless we humble ourselves before Him and show appreciation for the talents and life we have been given. Go out and look for ways to show your love and your appreciation for the life you have been given. The measure you will receive will be overflowing.
5- Always Say Thank You – This may be the most important of all. Your thank you show you care enough to acknowledge the other person. How often do you see people just take and go without acknowledging the others person? It’s disrespectful and shows no class. A thank you is a beautiful form of love to another person. Being appreciated is something that motivates us on a deeper level because we all appreciate being needed.
What Are The Benefits Of Gratitude?
Gratitude is not just a series of thank yous and feeling good about yourself. It goes much deeper. In Dr. Emmons’ studies, they found that people who regularly practice gratitude had had the following positive benefits.
1- Stronger immune systems
2- Less bothered by aches and pains
3- Lower blood pressure
4- Exercise more and take better care of their health
5- Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
1- Higher levels of positive emotions
2- More alert, alive, and awake
3- More joy and pleasure
4- More optimism and happiness
1- More helpful, generous, and compassionate
2- More forgiving,
3- More outgoing
4- Feel less lonely and isolated
These benefits show the link between happiness and gratitude. Gratitude acts as a catalyst in us becoming happier, healthier and better individuals. “It’s a buffering against negative states and emotions,” as stated in a 2009 paper in Counselling Psychology Review.
The health benefits of gratitude go far beyond just feeling better about yourself. As you can see by the above table, people who practice gratitude are better equipped to deal with the complexities of life. They take care of their physical health much better than those who don’t practice gratitude, they are able to deal with others in a less stressful environment as well as have a better sense of who they are and how they fit into society.
Gratitude builds optimism which is very important to enhancing our quality of life. The more optimistic we are the easier it is to stay healthy. This means you will have a better chance of staying on your diet, better chance of eating healthier foods as well as a better chance of dealing with health problems that surface from time to time.
This is also important when dealing with life’s problems. Mental health problems can limit the way we deal with others, how we feel about ourselves and how we live our lives. Gratitude is an important tool is staying mentally focused and getting along with others.
Socially, we all like to be around people who have good manners, are appreciative of us a person and give as much as they take. When you practice gratitude you stay balanced physically, mentally and socially.
How To Live A Life Of Gratefulness
Earlier, I asked what are you grateful for. Have you made a list of the things you are grateful for? Do you appreciate those things, the people and what it means to you.
Here are two bible verses that inspire me to live a life of gratitude and to express it with my heart.
Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Psalm 136:1“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
When we understand how much God loves us and how much he has given us, it makes it so easy to be thankful. No matter what happens, we know God’s steadfast love will take care of us. It is comforting to know this and I can go on knowing it will help me to appreciate others in my life and what they mean to me.
This is the secret of being happy. But what happens when things don’t go so well? Or there’s tragedy in your life?
This is where the real power of gratitude lies.
Want to know what how to practice gratitude in your own life?
You can find it in my #1 bestselling book on Amazon.com entitled “Summoned To Love – A Spiritual Blueprint For Rediscovering Inner Peace, Unconditional Love, And True Happiness.”