I recently researched and came across two studies that were done on gratitude. Gratitude being a fundamental factor in your own sense of well being and happiness in life. Is this true and what can we do in our daily lives to maximize our own happiness through gratitude?
The first study by Emmons, Robert A.; McCullough, Michael E., published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 84(2), Feb 2003, 377-389. Placed participants in one of three groups -“hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison.” “They then kept weekly or daily records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals.”
“The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.“
So according to this study simply listing your blessings once per day – or even once per week – can make a HUGE difference in your outlook and general feeling in life.
Based on this research, if you are having a hard time with anything or have seasonal depression or over all depression or generalized anxiety you can alleviate some of that (maybe all of it over time) by simply taking a few moments each day to write what you are grateful for in your life.
This may seem trite at first, but the research is there in black and white that it works – you’ve got nothing to lose! 🙂 Over time this will become a natural part of how you see the world and give you a more stable emotional state to operate from.
The second study I read included another factor – a Best Personal Selves visualization. So not only did participants list their blessings, they took time to visualize themselves as their best possible self. If they thought they needed to lose weight – they pictured themselves the weight they wanted to be, if they needed to accomplish something in life they pictured themselves with that accomplishment attained.
The study found that over the course of 4-6 weeks the participants that followed through on doing the Best Personal Selves exercises did the best – showing a statistical improvement over those who admitted doing more of just the blessings and less of this Best Personal Self visualization.
So in addition to taking a little time each day to journal your blessings, also take time to close your eyes an image yourself as your Best Possible Self. New job attained, college degree attained, physically fit and happy etc…
According to the hard science these things will indeed make you a happier more stable person!
Have fun! – Sara
Study 1 – CLICK HERE
Study 2 – CLICK HERE