Expressing gratitude is a lot more than saying “thank you” at the family Thanksgiving dinner table. Emerging research draws attention to its multiple benefits. People who are consistently grateful have been found to be happier, more energetic, more hopeful and experience more positive emotions. They also tend to be more helpful and empathic, more spiritual and forgiving, and less materialistic. Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in “The How of Happiness – A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want” that there are eight ways that gratitude boosts happiness:
1. Grateful thinking promotes the savoring of positive life experiences.
2. Expressing gratitude bolsters self-worth and self-esteem.
3. Gratitude helps people cope with stress and trauma.
4. Expressing gratitude encourages moral behavior.
5. Gratitude helps to build social bonds, strengthens existing relationships, and nurtures new ones.
6. Gratitude tends to diminish comparisons with others.
7. Gratitude deters feelings of anger, bitterness, and greed.
8. Gratitude helps thwart hedonic adaptation.
Let this Thanksgiving holiday be the start of a daily practice of expressing your gratitude. Keep a daily gratitude journal, identify one thing each day that you ordinarily take for granted, express your gratitude through pictures and share with friends, express your gratitude directly to a person, or write a letter to thank someone who has helped you get to where you are today. Expressing your gratitude can change your life. Give it a try.