As a result of extensive research at UCLA Davis, Robert Emmons described the qualities of people who felt a sense of gratitude as the following:
- Well-being — Positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, less of a focus on stress and depression
- Spirituality — Religious practices, a sense of the interconnectedness of life, commitment and responsibility to others
- Social Intelligence — Empathy, an ability to see from the perspective of others, generosity, helpfulness
- Not being as Materialistic — Less attachment to material goods, less inclined to be envious of others, willing to share possessions
In a study of 201 undergraduates, students who maintained weekly gratitude journals were found to engage in more physical activity, report fewer physical symptoms, exercise more regularly, be more optimistic about the upcoming week, and feel better about their lives in general when compared to students who did not keep gratitude journals.
WRITING A LETTER OF GRATITUDE
In this activity, you write a letter of gratitude letter to someone who has influenced your life for the better.
Mindful sitting with journal or writing paper.
Write a letter telling this person specifically what he or she did to inspire you.
Thank the person for this influence and say that you will strive to influence others in a positive way.
Consider making an appointment to meet with this person and read them this letter.
KEEPING A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Students have reported that keeping a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to change their attitude from seeing the world as lacking to seeing it as full of abundance and positive opportunities.
Mindful sitting. Use your phone, notepad, or special journal as a gratitude journal. Set aside a specific time (or times) each day to write (e.g., before meals or in the evening).
- List everything you are grateful for today. Using words other than grateful may help you to convey this. If you are having difficulty being grateful consider adopting an attitude of being grateful generally for what you have been given (with no buts). See if you can appreciate your blessings, people’s smiles, and ah-ha moments. Here are some phrases that might help:
I am grateful for ____________________________________
I am appreciative of ____________________________________
I am lucky to have ____________________________________
I am thankful for ____________________________________
I am privileged to have ____________________________________
2. Reflect on the word gratitude and what it means to you.
When you have finished your entry, sit quietly and repeat the mantra: Thank You for a few minutes. Set an intention to be on the lookout for gratitude tomorrow.
Tummers, N. E. (2013). Stress management: a wellness approach (pp. 153-154). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.