Dr. Robert A. Emmons is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, and is the founding Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He has conducted studies on gratitude and thankfulness and the impact those feelings have on people.
In one long-term study, Dr. Emmons partnered with Dr. Michael McCullough, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami. In setting up this research project, one of their goals was to develop methods to cultivate gratitude in one’s daily life, and to assess the effect gratitude had on one’s well-being.
What they found was that people who kept a gratitude journal they wrote in even only once a week, were more apt to exercise more, suffer less from physical problems, felt better about their lives in general, and began their week feeling good about themselves. This was in comparison with people in the study who wrote in a journal all of the negatives they had experienced during the week, and those who wrote about their experiences in a neutral manner, without any leaning toward those experiences being positive or negative.
The study also showed that those writing about all they were grateful for made greater progress in the goals they had set for themselves, when observed over a two month period, in comparison with the other two groups.
A daily gratitude intervention among young adults showed equally positive results as they were more attentive, more energized, more alert, and had greater enthusiasm and determination.
Others who wrote of their gratitude on a daily basis reported having helped or offered emotional support to someone else.
And in studying adults with neuromuscular disease over a 21-day period, those who kept daily gratitude journals said they felt more positive about their life, had higher energy, felt more connected to others, and were more optimistic. They also stated they had longer periods, and improved quality, of sleep.
Keeping a gratitude journal does not just change our thoughts. It changes the way we feel physically and emotionally, the progress we make in attaining our goals, and the way we react to others. Making such a commitment is one of the most effective ways we can nurture ourselves.
All it takes is a few moments a day to change your life. What a small investment for such positive results!
Grace of Gratitude Contributor