A New Year Of Gratitude
Happy New Year!
Now that 2014 has lost its newborn glow, we can start getting down to the business of working on ourselves and creating new habits that will lead to a happier existence. Many people have been talking about gratitude and the need to shift from complaining to appreciation. However, the ‘why’ is lost in a miasma of magical thinking. What if we told you there is science to this? What if we told you that some real researchers, psychologists and all around egg heads have rigorously studied the idea of gratitude?
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., from U.C. Davis, is the leading researcher in gratitude. His research shows that people who keep a gratitude journal report fewer physical ailments than those who do not. His research shows that adolescents who are coached to be more grateful show greater focus and attentiveness. His research also shows that people who intentionally practice gratitude report better moods and higher levels of energy.
However, Dr. Emmons also has done research on the true meaning of gratitude. Some may make the mistake of believing that gratitude is a sense of indebtedness. For example, expressing gratitude for your parents may have the underlying feeling that you owe them something for being a good mother/father. Perhaps that sense of debt spurs you to take care of them as they did you. This feeling of debt leads us only to anger and resentment. The truth is that parents are owed nothing but our love and respect. We do not owe them our lives. We can be grateful for their support and care but that is their job.
Gratitude is gratefulness. Being grateful is acknowledging the gifts that you receive. When we acknowledge our gifts and appreciate them, we also remind ourselves of our worth and that we are worthy and open to continue to receive. Debt is something that is owed and is a reminder of quid pro quo and that nothing is free. This way of thinking is dark and the antithesis of happiness.
Gratitude gives us meaning. This meaning gives us a sense of purpose and belonging.
So, we are grateful to you, the reader, for your support. We are grateful to our family for their love and understanding. We are grateful to our friends for their tireless encouragement. We are grateful to each other for being awesome in so many ways.
Carry on and be grateful.