I don’t know about you, but I remember as a kid the overwhelming number of times I would ask for something from my parents and they would throw back at me, “Be thankful for what you have!” As a child I just figured my parents were cheap and they didn’t want to spend the money.
It appears my parents were onto something, even more than they imagined…their response is now being backed by research. Past research supports the general idea that the more thankful we are for what we have, the happier more well-adjusted and even healthier we are.
One study compared three groups of people. One group was asked to write about the “hassles” of their day, another group was instructed to write down whatever they were grateful for that day, and finally a third group reflected and wrote about neutral happenings in their day. Those who wrote about their gratitude reported an overall higher sense of well-being across several measures when compared with the other two groups. Another study focused on the impact on a physical level. Subjects who felt higher levels of gratitude exercised more and suffered less from illness in one study. In another study, participants with higher levels of gratitude reported better quality sleep and longer sleep duration. The researchers noted the importance of “pre-sleep cognitions” and their potential impact on sleep experience.
If someone told you they had a simple secret that would lead to being happier, healthier, more energized and better rested, would you be interested? Try these for yourself and notice the impact on your life and work over time:
- Write it down daily. Emmons found those who recorded their gratefulness in a journal reported fewer health problems and greater optimism. Apparently 5 is the magic number!
- Appreciate and give thanks for what you have accomplished so far. It doesn’t mean you can’t still dream of more!
- Say thank you out loud more often. Two simple words that let others know you appreciate them.
- Send someone a handwritten thank you note (this may be a foreign concept for some). You double up the benefits…you generate good endorphins in you when writing it and generate good endorphins in them when they receive it!
Practicing thankfulness is like exercising a muscle…the more you exercise it the stronger it gets. What are you going to do starting today to build that muscle? Try these 4 simple ideas for 2 weeks and journal the effects. Let us know what you experience!