Psychology

Expressing Gratitude Unleashes the Power of Gratitude



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Who doesn't feel good watching the big reveal on Extreme Makeover? The commercial glitz can't hold a candle to the gut wrenching thankfulness expressed by families in need. Watching others express gratitude is also self-empowering. Gratitude is a verb, a feeling we share with others.

When you express gratitude it's like having a big bowl of "chicken soup for the soul"; it warms the hearts of everyone involved. Making someone else's day with a show of gratitude ultimately makes you feel good. Gratitude is self indulgent; order two helpings that to go.

If gratitude feels that good, you'd think we'd never forget to show it, but just the opposite is true. Have you ever noticed how effortlessly we show gratitude to strangers? We're more apt to appreciate the latte guy at Starbucks before we show a little gratitude toward family, co-workers and friends.

Family does seem to get the shortest end of the gratitude stick most often; we tend to forget the familiar. Think back to the last time you remembered to gratefully acknowledge something a family member did for you. Did they smile immediately or did a look of shock flash across their face? If the shock preceded the smile, there's still work to be done.

We need to keep gratitude at the forefront of our minds, to give back to others and to ourselves. Consider this famous quote from Cicero: We count our miseries carefully, and accept our blessings without much thought. Read it again: We count our miseries carefully, and accept our blessings without much thought. Kinda hits you right between the eyes, doesn't it? Gratitude is awareness.

Dr. Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis studies gratitude for a living. According to Emmons, "The practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25% and this is not hard to achieve." Dr. E. says that a just a few hours spent "writing a gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more." Time to grab a pen!

If you're a bit remiss on the gratitude front, here are some great reminders to help get your thankful mojo flowing:

1) Subscribe to a daily email reminder focused on gratitude.

2) Join a gratitude group on Facebook, or start one of your own.

3) Run through all the things you're grateful for when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night.

4) If you're better at putting pen to paper, definitely try a daily gratitude journal.

5) Google "gratitude" and read all about it.

One other thought; while you're thinking about it right now, (i.e. this very minute), take inventory of all the people you are grateful for having in your life, and go tell them so.

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More about this author: JJ Rusch

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