Restaurant autumn place setting“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ― Marcel Proust

The Thanksgiving season is such a perfect opportunity to really delve into the topic of gratitude.  What exactly is gratitude? Does a grateful heart really add to one’s life?  Do we take enough time throughout the year to express our gratitude?  Over the years, researchers have done studies on the topic of gratitude and have come up with some interesting findings.

Acknowledging good: One of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude, Robert Emmons, states that gratitude is a wonderful attribute for several reasons. He states that it is good because one, as we offer gratitude, we affirm goodness. We affirm that the world is full of good things.  Two, as we offer gratitude, we acknowledge that the goodness is not in and of ourselves, but outside of us.  That could be other people or the spiritual realm. He also points out that gratitude benefits people mentally, physical, and socially.

How gratitude helps mentally: Make no mistake about it: offering thanksgiving brings some happiness into the heart. Haven’t you ever held such gratitude in your heart for someone and just smiled from ear to ear thinking about them?  Maybe they blessed you with a gift or some sort of token of love.  Or maybe it was your mom, who is always there for you.  Feeling grateful brings joy into your life and also boosts other feelings like hope, peace, and enthusiasm.  It is worth noting here that as gratitude boosts happiness and peace, it also reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. With millions fighting such negative emotions, it is helpful for them to learn that simple gratitude can help them feel better.

How gratitude helps physically: Researcher like Emmons, along with other gratitude researchers, assert that the feelings of gratitude help the physical body by boosting the immune system, reducing pain and blood pressure, as well as other minor ailments.  Additionally, a grateful heart may help you sleep better and feel better when you wake up in the morning.

How gratitude helps socially: It’s not hard to imagine that ungrateful people tend to have less friends than grateful people. After all, hanging around a negative, ungrateful person can certainly bring you down.  Research indicates that a grateful heart helps relationships thrive better and each person tends to feel happier and more satisfied in the relationship. Additionally, a grateful heart will cause one to be more apt to forgive others and reach out in kindness.  It’s tough to be grateful and hold grudges at the same time; they just don’t jive.  Grateful people also tend to be more thoughtful and compassionate, oftentimes paying it forward.

Overall, cultivating a grateful heart is well worth the effort.  How do you become more grateful?  Simply make a decision to offer thanks more often. Take a good look at your life and offer gratitude for all the good in ii, as well as how the negative tends to help you learn valuable lessons.

  • When you wake up, offer thanks.
  • Throughout the day, offer thanks.
  • Before going to sleep, offer thanks.

Tell those in your life why you are grateful for them. Feel your heart soar with a deep gratitude and as you do, you’ll be more satisfied with yourself and life in general.

 

From the Harvesting Happiness blog archives, originally posted November 22, 2014

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