Being Thankful for Thankfulness

Let me start this blog with a “thank you!”

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Thank you for giving me an excuse to look more deeply at the practice of gratitude.  While I knew gratitude boosted energy and brightened outlooks, I have grown to appreciate more the specific, research-based, measurable impact that practicing gratitude can bring into our lives through this study.  So, thank you!

I have never quite had a year like this past year.  As I reflected on it with my Timeline Tool, I realized that this year was uniquely filled with both very high highs and very low lows—often stacked right on top of each other!   One of the anchors that has carried me through this wonderful and difficult year has been that of regular thankfulness.  Even in the midst of loss and sadness, we can focus on the good in the world and the givers of good in the world through thankfulness.

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Brene Brown is a researcher, story-teller, and TEDx speaker with millions of views.  She described to an interviewer what she expected to find as she began researching the topics of joy and gratitude.

Prior to her research, she expected to find that those who were joyful would demonstrate the most gratitude.  As the data arrived, however, she found the exact opposite to be true!  Those who regularly practiced gratitude experienced more joy. 

Pretty soon, her family started adopting regular habits of gratitude—such as identifying something they were thankful for before each meal.

Wow!  Everyone is searching for the key to happiness!

Who knew it was in gratitude?

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Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”

After looking more deeply at the research, I can see the truth of this profound statement even more.

Robert Emmons is a gratitude researcher—(cool job, eh?).  In 2013, he released his long-term findings in his book called Gratitude Works!.

One of the specific practices of gratitude that Emmons endorses is keeping a journal in which you write down your thoughts and feelings related to gratitude (see also Think Time).

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When this practice of gratitude and others were studied, 6 different categories of significant findings were noted.

 

1.  Practicing gratitude increases emotional well being.  People feel more joy, happiness, and overall well being.

2.  Practicing gratitude improves relationships.  People get along better with others and find that their relationships are more fulfilling.  They feel more connected and less lonely.

3.  Practicing gratitude can reduce depression.  In mild or mild to moderate depression, practicing gratitude can help in remediation of depression and help prevent future episodes of depression.

4.  People practicing gratitude achieve more.  They are more goal oriented and more effective at accomplishing the goals they set for themselves.

5.  People practicing gratitude were more resilient to trauma.  Gratitude became part of a person’s psychological immunity system.

6.  People practicing gratitude experience better physical health.  In this newest line of research, measurable, quantifiable data correlates practicing gratitude with people exercising more.  These people also sleep better and awake feeling more refreshed.  They are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and they are more likely to adhere to medication prescribed by a doctor.  Also, links to lower blood pressure, healthy lipid panels, and better kidney health were discovered.

Wow!  What a list!

If you are like me, you are adding practicing thankfulness to the top of your daily priority list right away!

Would you join me as I bump up thankfulness to the top of my priorities?  

How about you?  What are you thankful for today on this Thanksgiving ThinkTime Thursday?  Please comment below!

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

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