“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” — Kak Sri
While walking with my friend late one evening, he asked as he stared at the cracks in the sidewalk, “Why do some people fall apart when they step upon the smallest crack and others handle the deep crevices with grace?”
I believe the difference lies in practicing the art of gratitude. Research studies conclude that the expression of gratitude has positive effects on our health, our moods and our relationships.
Would you like to sleep better? Instead of counting sheep, count your blessings.
Alex Wood and colleagues of the University of Manchester have published several studies that look at the correlation between gratitude and well-being. They specifically mention that showing gratitude results in better sleep overall.
Would you like to look younger? Robert Emmons of UC Davis and fellow researcher Michael McCullough of the University of Miami found through their research that practicing gratitude balances hormonal levels and leads to the release of DHEA, “the anti-aging hormone.” Gratitude also boosts the immune system by increasing the LgA antibody.
Would you like to reach your goals? Emmons and McCullough had a group of subjects record five things for which they were grateful every week in a “gratitude journal.” After two months, the study reports, “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based)” than those who didn’t.
Would you like to stay married or improve your significant relationships? Recently reported in the Huffington Post, Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington says he can predict with 90 percent accuracy, usually after only three minutes of observation, which marriages will make it and which will not. He has been researching marriages for two decades. His formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude).
Would you like to be less depressed? Researchers at York University in Toronto divided 200 moderately depressed people into two groups. For seven days, one group listened daily to music designed to boost mood. The other group completed an online “gratitude exercise” every night, in which they listed five things that happened that day for which they were grateful. The research showed that both groups were less depressed six months post-study, but the self-critical individuals in the gratitude group reported a greater boost in overall happiness than any of the other participants.
Would you like more business? One experiment found that customers of a jewelry store who were called and thanked showed an increase of 70 percent in future purchases. Donors who contribute to charities who are personally thanked tend to give more and on a regular basis. Employees who are appreciated are better workers.
Gratitude is more powerful than any drug. It allows you to see beyond the immediate appearance into the heart of life and gives you the ability to extract the good. It changes a negative mindset into a positive one.
As we soon enter the new year, my holiday wish for you is that, no matter what your circumstances are on any given day, that you can find peace through the simple act of expressing gratitude.