One of the fantastic things about science in the modern era, is that we are now able to research and prove things we only guessed at before. In relationship to gratitude, for example, we all know it is ‘good’ to be grateful. However with science and research, we now know that practicing gratitude actually changes lives!
Robert Emmons, PhD, is a published professor out of the University of Davis who has been researching gratitude for over 10 years. His findings on gratitude are absolutely astounding! According to Emmons, practicing gratitude actually heals, energizes and transforms lives! In multiple studies, he found the same results time after time. Did you know that when we practice gratitude, we are much more likely to:
• Be more attentive, connected and aware during the day
• Have better health and fewer physical complaints
• Sleep better and feel more rested
• Make progress toward and reach personal goals
• Feel better about one’s life in general
• Experience higher self-esteem
• Be more generous and helpful to others in need
• Have lower blood pressure and stress levels
To be sure, it is incredible that something as simple and accessible as gratitude helps us achieve these states. In fact, participants in the studies experienced these realities 10-20% more than they had before (when not using gratitude practices). These practices include keeping a daily or weekly gratitude list or journal, savoring or meditating on the feeling of gratitude in your body, sharing or expressing gratitude with others regularly and so on.
In relationships specifically, I have found that gratitude also has profound effects. It can bring balance to extreme situations, soften hard edges and ground us more deeply in reality. For example, when we are regularly aware of the things we are grateful for in another, it helps provide spaciousness to addressing what is challenging. It also helps prevent us from over reacting or thinking negatively with criticism and blame. Lastly, it helps us maintain a healthy perspective that isn’t overly focused on aspects that are only true some of the time.
Indeed, gratitude is pure, positive energy that no relationship should go without. Consider being creative with how you might practice gratitude, whether within yourself or outwardly toward others. Specific examples might include recalling when another did something wonderful for you, sharing with another how they make your life better, or keeping a weekly list of what you appreciate about another. One other wonderful practice is to do special things that others would be grateful to your for. There is nodoubt – gratitude really works! Try it and make it your own!
Resources that may help: