5 Ways Gratefulness Can Change Your Life
Eight months ago I was laid off. In one day, our household income dropped more than 80 percent. Tough break? You bet!
In between the job search, phone calls, and interviews, I discovered books and articles about gratitude and started reading . Several scientific studies, conducted over the past fifteen years, prove what many of us learned from the Bible and have known intuitively for years; a grateful attitude results in a better life. It’s nice to have your beliefs affirmed by scientific proof.
Gratefulness helps me to stay in a positive frame of mind. Reading about and meditating on gratefulness keeps me in a healthy frame of mind. I honestly believe it has helped me avoid the grief and depression that often follows a layoff. Focusing on gratitude has created a new career for me. It has changed my life, and it can change yours too.
Here are five ways choosing a grateful attitude can change your life.
1.Increase your social capital. People like grateful people. Cultivate a positive outlook on life and you’ll have more friends. Gratitude leads to more satisfying relationships. Keep your grateful attitude stoked by finding an uplifting group that meets weekly. Places to check out might include your church, business community, the library, a community college, or university. If you can’t find a group, start one!
2. Live longer. Gratitude adds years to your life. Living a grateful life can add up to 7 enjoyable years to your life. People who focus on gratitude are healthier, exercise more, have fewer stress-related illnesses, and lower blood pressure resulting in a longer life span.
3. Achieve more goals. Grateful people reach more of their objectives. Make a list of the things you are thankful for at least once a week. You will achieve more of your goals by writing down your goals and the reasons you are grateful vs. just thinking about the reasons you are grateful. Thinking is good. Writing is better.
4. Make more money. An attitude of gratitude can increase your income. Grateful people earn up to 7% more than their grumpy counterparts. Who would you rather work with–Negative Nancy or Pollyanna? It’s easier to come to work each day if you enjoy the people surrounding you. A supervisor with a positive attitude who appreciates and values the team will motivate staff to excel, resulting in increased productivity, better employee attendance and retention, and greater potential for promotion.
5. Increased support. Grateful people are more supportive of others. Focusing on the positive things in life increases feelings of compassion towards family, friends, coworkers, and the community. If you’re helpful to others, they are more likely to help you in return.
An attitude of gratitude brings joy and happiness to life. Each action or reaction is a choice. Choose to be grateful. Choose to focus on the positive aspects of your day. Look for small reasons be thankful each day. Find a reason to smile often.
I challenge you to start your day thinking about the things in life you are thankful for. At least once a week, list five things or people you appreciate in your life.
Choose to change your life through grateful living.
Resources: /// DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M.Y., Bauman, J., Williams, L.A., & Dickens, L. (2010). Gratitude as moral sentiment: Emotion-guided cooperation in economic exchange. Emotion, 10, 289-293. /// Emmons, R.A. (2007). Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. New York: Houghton-Mifflin. /// Emmons, R.A. (2013). Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. /// Emmons , R. A. , & McCullough , M. E. ( 2003 ). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 , 377 – 389. /// Emmons, R., & Mishra, A. (2011). Why Gratitude Enhances Well-Being: What We Know, What We Need to Know. In M. Kennon, T. Sheldon, T. Kashdan & M. F. Steger (Eds). Designing Positive Psychology: Taking Stock and Moving Forward (pp. 248-264). New York: Oxford Press. /// Hill, P,L., Allemand, NM., & Roberts, B.L. (2013) Examining the pathways between gratitude and self- rated physical health across adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 92-96. /// Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 118-129