Joyous Blog

The Science of Gratitude

Apr 29, 2016 BY Joy McCarthy

Whenever something really great happens in my life I literally thank my lucky stars. Being grateful however, is pretty easy when things are going awesome. Wouldn't you agree?

Note: Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post because there is a "10 days of gratitude" challenge I'm doing and I would love for you to join me!

How often are you grateful when you've had a bad day? Being grateful when times are tough (and also when times are terrific) can truly transform your life. Consistency is key. Most nights before I fall off to sleep I share with Walker what I'm grateful for. Sometimes it's as simple as "I'm grateful for this very comfy bed we get to cuddle in" or "I'm grateful for our quiet time together this evening".

When implementing a gratitude practice, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Be specific with your gratefulness

According to research, being more specific about what your grateful for helps you maintain this health habit for the long haul. So instead of just saying "I'm grateful for my family" week after week, you could say what you're specifically grateful for such as... "I'm grateful for my mom's generosity and the time she makes to bake me delicious breakfast cookies" (hey Ma McCarthy -- that's for you!) or "I'm grateful for the foot massage my husband gave me" (hint, hint Walker if you're reading this) heehee!

Dr. Robert Emmons who is the leading expert on the subject of gratitude suggests that focusing our gratitude on people for whom we’re thankful rather than material items will enhance the benefits we experience.

Regardless of what you're thankful for, making it an every day habit is proven to reap benefits.

I have a funny feeling that after you read about the science of gratitude you may be convinced to make this part of your daily ritual if you don't already do so.

Let's look at what the science says about gratitude shall we?

Gratitude makes you happier

Mountains of research support this including the Harvard study on 21 days of gratitude. I'm not linking any study here only because there are a gazillion studies that prove gratitude makes one happier! :) In fact, a regular practice of gratitude can increase happiness by up to 25% according to the Greater Good Science Center.

Gratitude makes for a healthy marriage or partnership

The University of Georgia  has shown that gratitude can protect marriages from the negative effects of conflict. This makes perfect sense doesn't it? We all want to feel appreciated and a little gratitude for your spouse or partner can go a long way.

Gratitude makes it easier to heal from traumatic life events

Sometimes events happen in our life that are completely out of our control. For example if someone in your family suddenly becomes ill or your home is damaged from a tornado. Well, research found that the people who gave thanks even in the face of a traumatic life event had better coping skills and reported more happiness overall.

Gratitude improves emotional and physical health

I wrote about this in my book Joyous Health! Dr. Robert Emmons is Mr. Gratitude. The man has done a LOT of research on this topic. In fact, his research indicates that gratitude is not merely a positive emotion; it improves your emotional and physical health if cultivated regularly.
Gratitude makes you more optimistic about the upcoming week.
If Instagram is any indication, a lot of people aren't a fan of Mondays. Well it turns out according to Emmons' research that gratitude makes you more optimistic about the coming week.

I have to tell you, after writing this blog post I'm feeling incredibly grateful!!! I have so many things I want to tell you I'm grateful for.

Before I say goodbye, I would love for you to participate in something with me... 10 days of gratitude -- starting Friday April 29th. Every day for 10 days on instagram, facebook and twitter . I'm going to share what I'm grateful for. Please join me!

Thank you for reading this post and thank you for your comments!

Have a joyous day!

Apr 29, 2016 BY Joy McCarthy
2 Comments
Marianela   •   May 9, 2016

Such an amazing article! Being grateful gives you a more positive outlook in life and make you more appreciative of your daily blessings =) Thank you for posting this.

Reply
Heather Allen   •   May 9, 2016

You are so welcome! So glad to hear you enjoyed it :) Heather- Joyous Health Team


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