How a Daily Dose of Gratitude Can Change Your Life

by on November 27, 2014

gratitude

Gratitude gets center stage on holidays like Thanksgiving, but it can do amazing things if you make a point of keeping it alive all year long. In fact, the positive effects of gratitude have become a hot topic ever since studies on positive psychology began to discover how truly remarkable gratitude can be for your physical, mental and spiritual health.

What It Does 

One of the most straightforward studies comes from two psychologists, University of California’s Robert Emmons and University of Miami’s Michael McCullough. Participants were simply asked to write several sentences a week on a specific topic.

  • One group had to write about things that happened during the week that made them grateful.
  • One group was asked to write about things that annoyed or irritated them.
  • One group wrote about neutral events that left them with neither positive nor negative emotions.

Researchers checked on the groups after 10 weeks and found the gratitude group:

  • Was more optimistic
  • Felt better about their lives
  • Exercised more frequently and had fewer doctor visits than the irritated group

That’s just one study on what has become a pretty vast field of research. The Happier Human blog dove into an array of different studies to surface with 31 different gratitude benefits. Some of the most notable include:

  • More good feelings, relaxation, resiliency, kindness, friendships
  • Feeling more optimistic, social, spiritual
  • Feeling less envious, materialistic, self-centered
  • Happier memories, healthier marriage, deeper relationships
  • Improved sleep, more exercise, increased energy
  • Enhanced networking and self-esteem, better management, increased productivity
  • A greater sense of overall happiness

Many of the benefits can contribute to a decrease in your driving anxiety and driving fears since you can enjoy a more relaxed, less self-centered, and overall happier state.

How to Dive On In 

You have several options when it comes to expressing gratitude on a regular basis. Pick one, pick a few, pick all that work for you. 

Gratitude List or Journal: A gratitude list, or series of lists in the form of a gratitude journal, is one way to bask in everything for which you are thankful on a regular basis. You can set up your own schedule, such as listing three different items each day, 10 different items each week, or going all-out by illustrating your journal or making a collage.

Prayer and Meditation: Daily prayer, meditation, or both can help keep gratitude alive if you focus on giving thanks for things you hold dear. Make a morning or nightly prayer and meditation ritual, or take time out throughout your busy day to spend a moment in quiet thanks.

Saying Thank You: Sending a note or card to someone who did something kind is a fabulous way to pass along your gratitude. It could be something simple and recent, such as a coworker’s filling in for your day off. Or it could be something more elaborate and long past, such as the time and energy your favorite teacher spent nurturing your creativity.

Making gratitude an integral part of your daily life may help you reap all its benefits just as frequently. And those benefits may, in turn, do wonders for alleviating driving anxiety and fears.

SOURCES:

Photo Credit: Bibi via Compfight cc

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