Throughout the month of November, we are going to focus on a Gratitude 101, including its personal and professional benefits. We will also be participating in the national #GratitudeChallenge.
The first step to expressing gratitude is to fully understand it’s definition. Robert Emmons, a professor at UC Davis and leading expert in gratitude has a comprehensive, two-part definition:
- Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. By expressing gratitude, we acknowledge that there are good things in the world and that we’ve received its gifts and benefits. It’s important to note that gratitude doesn’t ignore the bad things and hassles of life, but rather encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life. (Tweet this)
- Gratitude involves figuring out where that goodness comes from. Expressing gratitude often reveals that many sources of goodness are outside of ourselves. (Tweet this) We can still be proud of our traits and what we accomplish, but Dr. Emmons believes that true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others. By this he means that we acknowledge that other people’or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset’help us achieve the goodness in our lives.
Benefits of Gratitude
The concept of expressing gratitude may seem like a light and fluffy practice, but it has significant and measurable benefits. In one study executed by Dr. Emmons, two groups of people were asked to keep a weekly journal. One group filled it with expressions of gratitude. The other wrote about the stressors or neutral events of their lives. The results: those who kept a gratitude journal exercised more regularly, had fewer physical ailments, and felt better and more optimistic about their lives.
Additional Gratitude 101 research has found:
- Daily discussions of gratitude results in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy and sleep duration and quality.
- Gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we support and affirmation from others.
- People who rank higher on gratitude scales are less likely to retaliate against others and experience more sensitivity and empathy towards other people.
- Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep.
- Gratitude reduces social comparisons and increases self-esteem.
Are you kicking-off your gratitude journey? Join us in the national gratitude challenge using the hashtag #GratitudeChallenge on Twitter.