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Practice Gratitude

Did you know that research correlates giving thanks and improved happiness?

Keep reading to learn from two studies that make this connection.

Count Your Blessings vs. Burdens

The first study took three groups of people. One of the groups was told to write down things that they were thankful for in a journal, the second group was told to write down things that irritated them, and the third was to just make notes on events from the day with no emphasis on positive or negative spin. At the end of ten weeks, each group was followed up with. The group that wrote about gratitude was more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Another interesting finding was that the group that wrote what they were thankful for also had less visits to physicians and exercised more than the other groups. Wow! Who would think that something as simple as writing what you are thankful would correlate with less doctor visits.

Deliver Letters of Gratitude

The second study evaluated the effects of various positive psychology interventions. Each intervention was compared with a control group that was assigned to write down early memories. The intervention had the most impact when participants were instructed to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for their kindness. After delivering letters of gratitude, participants immediately showed a huge increase in happiness scores, and benefits to this group lasted a month!

 

Ideas to Cultivate Gratitude in Your Life:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down things you are thankful regularly.
  2. Think of people in your life who you are thankful for. These can be the people you see every day like family members, or those you haven’t talked to in years!  Write a letter or tell them how they have impacted your life in a positive way. Try to make a habit doing this at least once a month.
  3. If you live with someone, spend a few minutes each day talking about what you are thankful for. At a meal or before bed might be good times for this.
  4. Meditation. If you meditate, it could be a great time to think about what you are thankful for.
  5. Prayer. If you are religious, you can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.
  6. Put a sticky note somewhere that will make someone smile. This can be for a random person, or someplace in your home.

While Thanksgiving is a great time to be thankful, I challenge you to add one or more of these gratitude techniques into your routine beyond the holiday. You might be surprised at how good it feels, and how contagious this kindness can be! Do you have more ideas for me on ways to express gratitude? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to chat with me on my facebook page!

-Dr. Jamie Thomure

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