Gratitude JournalMay 3, 2013 Written by JP [Font too small?]
A primary tenet of my health care philosophy is that almost any action that improves your well being will likely benefit those around you. But, making inspiring, positive changes in your lifestyle goes far beyond obvious strategies such as changing your diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. Your attitude is at least as important. The trouble is that for many, a change in attitude seems even more formidable than giving up junk food, going to the gym or setting a consistent sleep schedule.
Adopting an “attitude of gratitude” is a free, powerful resource that virtually everyone can access. And, thankfully, researchers from highly respected institutions such as the University of California, Davis and the University of Miami have come up with evidence-based guidelines to help incorporate more gratitude into our daily lives. If interested, here’s all you’ll need to do: Once a week, write down five things that you’re grateful for in your life. It’s best to be specific, but keep each item to a maximum of one sentence. According to pioneering research by Drs. Michael E. McCullough and Robert A. Emmons, this simple practice has been shown to improve: a) a variety of physical symptoms including low energy, pain perception and sleep quality; b) personal goal attainment; c) optimism and social connectedness; d) positive attitudes toward family and school activities in children. Interestingly, more is not necessarily better. Writing a gratitude journal on a daily basis is not as effective or sustainable as practicing this exercise once or twice a week.
Personally, I suggest taking the practice of gratitude journaling one step further. The additional step I recommend is to seek out a gratitude partner. This can be a family member, friend or someone at school or work. Each week, email that person your list of five things that inspire gratitude in you. In turn, your partner should send you their list. After reading each others’ lists, a brief confirmation of receipt is all that’s needed. “Thanks! Got it!”. No commentary or judgement should be made. This style of partnership acts to inspire acceptance, gratitude and reflection in the recipients and writers alike. Also, it’s a gentle reminder for those hectic times when one might otherwise forget to write a weekly list. I hope you’ll join me and many of my clients in starting and maintaining a gratitude journal right now. And! I am grateful for your attention and time.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Examining the Pathways Between Gratitude & Self-Rated Physical … (link)
Study 2 – The Effects of Counting Blessings On Subjective Well-Being: A Gratitude … (link)
Study 3 – Gratitude and Well-Being: A Review and Theoretical Integration … (link)
Study 4 – Gratitude Influences Sleep Through the Mechanism of Pre-Sleep … (link)
Study 5 – Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation … (link)
Study 6 – Becoming Happier Takes Both a Will & A Proper Way: An Experimental … (link)
Study 8 – The New York Times: A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day … (link)
Study 9 – UC Davis Emmons Lab: Gratitude and Well-Being … (link)
Study 10 – University of California, Berkeley: Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal … (link)
Free, Natural and Safe Ways of Increasing Feelings of Gratitude
Source: Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010 November; 7(11): 18–22. (link)
Tags: Fatigue, Pain, Sleep
Posted in Alternative Therapies, General Health, Mental Health