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How Science Says Gratitude Helps You

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  • How Science Says Gratitude Helps You

    Gratitude is the heart's memory.
    --French proverb
    When's the last time you really gave thanks for all of the good things in your life? If it's been awhile (say since last Thanksgiving) we have some news that may motivate you to do it more often: showing gratitude improves your physical and mental health.

    Don’t believe us? It's a fact. Ancient proverbs have been extolling the virtues of gratitude for centuries. As one proverb says, "Gentle words cause life and health; griping brings discouragement."

    Other great leaders also believed in the power of gratitude:
    • "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." -- Cicero
    • "A noble person is mindful and thankful of the favors he receives from others." -- Buddha
    • "Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind." -- George Simmel

    Indeed, the philosophers and religious leaders of years gone by were on to something, and modern-day research is bearing out the same findings: giving thanks is an integral part of being happy and healthy.

    Giving Thanks is Good for You

    "Gratitude is the "forgotten factor" in happiness research," according to University of California Davis Psychology Professor Robert Emmons. In his research, he has uncovered some of gratitude's far-reaching effects:
    • Greater Optimism and Physical Fitness: People who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised on a more regular basis, felt better physically and about their lives in general, and had a more optimistic attitude about the upcoming week than people who recorded negative or neutral things in a journal.
    • Achieve Your Goals: Those who kept gratitude lists were closer to attaining their personal goals after a two-month period than those who did not.
    • Stress Relief: Being grateful is also an effective way to release stress, according to Emmons. "Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress," he said in a WebMD article.
    • Greater Sense of Wellbeing and Positive Emotions: People who are grateful report higher levels of positive emotions, vitality and life satisfaction, and lower levels of depression and stress.
    • Helps You Cope With Illness: Among people with a neuromuscular disease, Emmons found that a "21-day gratitude intervention" produced more "high-energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one's life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group."

    Disregard Your Complaints and Discover Your Gratitude

    Clearly giving thanks is something we should all do a lot of. On a practical level, you can increase your gratitude by:

    1. Keeping a gratitude journal that lists everything you're thankful for.
    2. Writing a thank you note to a parent, a teacher, a mentor or anyone else in your life who deserves a pat on the back.
    3. Beginning and ending each day by thinking of five things you're grateful for.
    4. Telling your significant other how much you appreciate him or her on a regular basis.
    5. When things go your way, smiling and being thankful for them.

    Some days, though, you may find it hard to give thanks amidst life's challenges. You may even find it difficult to consciously think about giving thanks, particularly if you already feel overwhelmed by work and family obligations.

    If this sounds familiar, consider learning The Sedona Method. The Method will show you how to let go of negative emotions and enables a more giving attitude.

    "Gratitude is the natural outcome of recognizing the truth of who you are and what you are not," says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and Director of Training of Sedona Training Associates. "The more you let go the more you feel and express gratitude in your relationships."

    "Part of what you discover as you let go is that you are not the center of the universe and that apparently others are often contributing more to your health, wealth, well-being and happiness than you are aware of. So as you let go of your self-centered feelings by releasing, the feeling and expression of gratitude becomes much more natural," Dwoskin continues.

    With The Sedona Method, you'll be able to see the good in your life even on your most challenging days, and this ultimately will enable you to give thanks often and freely, leading to a more fulfilling life for you.
    Purchase Letting Go Movie on DVD
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    Purchase The Sedona Method Course
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