Physical • Stronger immune systems • Less bothered by aches and pains • Lower blood pressure • Exercise more and take better care of their health • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Psychological • Higher levels of positive emotions • More alert, alive, and awake • More joy and pleasure • More optimism and happiness
Social • More helpful, generous, and compassionate • More forgiving • More outgoing • Feel less lonely and isolated.
Professor Emmons suggests that the social benefits are especially significant as gratitude is a social emotion and is thus relationship-strengthening as it requires us to see how we’ve been supported by other people.
He defines gratitude as having 2 core components:
(1) Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness.
"We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.
This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life."
(2) Gratitude recognises the source of this goodness as being outside of ourselves.
It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride.
We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others.
We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives."
Robert Kanaat - a very successful blogger - give a first hand account of how the practice of gratitude has helped him turn his life around from a position of failure, despair and despondency to a life of meaning, purpose and significant online success. He offers: 7 Crucial Reasons Why Gratitude Can Change Your Life
As with mindfulness, gratitude can occur spontaneously but it is not the default position of how our minds function. It requires conscious effort over a period of time to "reprogramme" your thinking processes and emotional responses to live a life of gratitude.
Based on my own experience I would suggest the following guidelines for developing a regular basic practice of gratitude.
• Make a commitment - set aside 10-15 mins a day to consciously practice gratitude.
• Be specific - give thanks for specific benefits, gifts and blessings that you have enjoyed.
• Watch your language - express gratitude without caveats and qualification.
• Feel it - these are not just words, feel your gratitude.
• Develop a people focus - express gratitude for relationships.
• Listen to uplifting music - create and listen to a playlist of songs and pieces of music that fill your heart with thanksgiving.
• Live mindfully - remind yourself frequently throughout the day that this moment is all there is - so be present.
• Use all your senses - taste, smell, look at, and touch mindfully and give thanks.
• Remember your death - treat every day as though you knew it was going to be your last day on earth.
• Offer prayers of gratitude - express thanks to your higher power (however you choose to define that).
It relieves stress and anxiety, helps you regain your balance and manifest your intentions.
I commend it to you.
The Advanced Practice Of Gratitude
In the basic practise of gratitude we acknowledge that the source of goodness comes from outside of ourselves and we recognise our humble dependence on others.
In the advanced practise of gratitude we recognise and acknowledge that the source of all goodness comes from a higher power.
We discussed what we mean by "higher power" in Energy Goes Where Energy Flows. Some call this Reality, The Universe, God, and other names, and I refer to it as "The Energy Of Life" (aka the "ground of all being" or as Tillich expresses it: "the power of being in everything and above everything, the infinite power of being")
This is an expression of gratitude for life itself, for existence, for anything and everything you experience - the good, the bad and the indifferent.
Advanced gratitude is an underlying attitude of giving thanks and expressing gratitude in ALL circumstances. With practice it becomes part of your identity.
Advanced gratitude includes all aspects of basic gratitude practice but goes beyond that to include gratitude for:
- your life - the universe - time and space - your problems, challenges, and hardships - your foibles and mistakes - your consciousness - your ego - people who treat you unkindly or unfairly - your thoughts and emotions - your freedom of choice - ideas and concepts
1. Your higher power has your best interests at heart.
2. The nature of your higher power is energy - it is the Energy of Life - it is the ground of all being and its core is the highest energy of love.
3. The Energy of Life loves you and invites a relationship with you.
4. The Energy of Life responds to your energetic state.
In The Loving Father we acknowledged that in the Christian expression, one of the unique features of the sayings of Jesus is his emphasis on the relational aspect of God (The Energy Of Life), his expression of God (The Energy Of Life) as Father – a loving Father.
Thus the foundation of this is love and relationship and on that foundation is built trust.
Many of us carry wounds from our past that make the very thought of a loving, trusting, personal relationship with The Energy Of Life seem difficult.
Speaking personally, I have struggled deeply with this for all of my adult life. I reached a point of mental assent to the truth of all this about 10 years ago , but it is only very recently that I have been able to feel it.
Gratitude Changes The Way You Look At Things And The Things You Look At Change