The expression of gratitude is a kind of megastrategy for achieving happiness. By definition, the practice of gratitude involves a focus on the present moment, on appreciating your life as it is today and what has made it so.

 

Expressing gratitude is a lot more than saying thank you. People who are consistently grateful have been found to be relatively happier, more energetic, and more hopeful and more emphatic, more spiritual and religious, more forgiving and less materialistic than others who are less predisposed to gratefulness. Furthermore, the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic.

 

It may sound corny, but the research clearly demonstrates that you would be happier if you cultivated an “attitude of gratitude.” Indeed, there are no fewer than eight reasons for why it is recommended to practice it.

 

  1. Grateful thinking promotes the savoring of positive life experiences

 

By relishing and taking pleasure in some of the gifts of your life, you will be able to extract the maximum possible satisfaction and enjoyment from your current circumstances.

 

  1. Expressing gratitude bolsters self-worth and self-esteem.

 

When you realize how much people have done for you or how much you have accomplished, you feel more confident and successful.

 

  1. Gratitude helps people cope with stress and trauma

 

The ability to appreciate your life circumstances may be an adaptive coping method by which you positively reinterpret successful or negative life experiences.

 

  1. The expression of gratitude encourages moral behavior

 

Grateful people are more likely to help others and less likely to be materialistic.

 

  1. Gratitude can help build social bonds, strengthening existing relationships and nurturing new ones

 

Keeping a gratitude journal, for example, can produce feelings of greater connectedness with others.

 

  1. Expressing gratitude tends to inhibit envious comparisons with others

 

If you are genuinely thankful and appreciative for what you have (e.g., family, health, home), you are less likely to pay close attention to or envy what others have.

  1. The practice of gratitude is incompatible with negative emotions and may actually diminish or deter such feelings as anger, bitterness, and greed

 

Indeed, it’s hard to feel guilty or resentful or infuriated when you’re feeling grateful.

 

  1. Gratitude helps us thwart hedonic adaptation (our capacity to adjust rapidly to any new circumstance; for example, you expect once you get the new CD you wanted that you will be happy. Once you get the CD you are happy for a short period of time before adjusting back to your original state.)

 

By preventing people from taking the good things in their lives for granted-from adapting to their positive life circumstances-the practice of gratitude can directly counteract the effects of hedonic adaptation.

 

How To Practice Gratitude

 

  1. Gratitude Journal
  2. Paths to Gratitude
  3. Keep the Strategy Fresh
  4. Express gratitude directly to another

 

Gratitude Journal

Choose a time of day when you have several minutes to step outside your life and to reflect. Ponder the three to five things for which you are currently grateful, from the boring (your dryer is fixed, the sun is out) to the magnificent (the Phoenix Suns basketball team finally won the world championship, the girl you asked out said yes). Doing this once a week is likely to boost happiness.

 

Paths to gratitude

Instead of writing, some of you may choose a fixed time simply to contemplate each of your objects of gratitude and perhaps also to reflect on why you are grateful and how your life has been enriched.

Another idea is to introduce a visitor to the things, people, and places that you love. Show off your comic book collection, your favorite park, or your favorite niece. Doing this will help you see the ordinary details of your life through another person’s eyes, affording you a fresh perspective and making you appreciate them as though you were experiencing them for the first time.

 

Keep the Strategy Fresh

Another important recommendation is to keep the gratitude strategy fresh by varying it and not overpracticing it.

 

Express Gratitude directly to another

Finally, the expression of gratitude may be particularly effective when done directly-by phone, letter or face-to-face. If there’s someone in particular whom you owe a debt of gratitude, express your appreciation in concrete terms. Describe in detail what he or she did for you and exactly how it affected your life; mention how you often remember his or her efforts.

 

  1. “By definition, the practice of gratitude involves ________________________________________________________________.”

 

  1. “…the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be _____________, anxious, _______________, envious, or _______________.”

 

  1. Of all the eight reasons listed in this module, share your favorite reason for why it is recommended to practice gratitude.

 

  1. Share the last experience you had that was pleasurable or positive.

 

  1. Share a person that has done something for you recently.

 

  1. Share something you accomplished recently

 

  1. Share a time you recently helped someone with something

 

  1. Share three things you were grateful for in the last week

 

  1. Share the four ways to practice gratitude listed in this module

 

  1. Write a short letter to the person whom you owe a debt of gratitude and express your appreciation in concrete terms. Describe in detail what he or she did for you and exactly how it affected your life; mention how you often remember his or her efforts.