The Science of Gratitude
And Why Gratitude Is So Good for You
My heart is happy today. After five (5! FIVE!) long weeks in the hospital, my sister gets to go home today. Imagine the glee she must feel anticipating her own bed… looking out into the gray Michigan skies… breathing heaps of gratitude.
I’m certainly feeling grateful, and Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis aka the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, says that’s a good thing:
Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in our studies, we often have people keep gratitude journals for just three weeks. And yet the results have been overwhelming. We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
Stronger immune systems
Less bothered by aches and pains
Lower blood pressure
Exercise more and take better care of their health
Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Higher levels of positive emotions
More alert, alive, and awake
More joy and pleasure
More optimism and happiness
More helpful, generous, and compassionate
Feel less lonely and isolated.
My feelings of gratitude lead me right into today’s journal prompt. It’s inspired by my sister plus my wrap-up piece for the book, Wide Awake. Every Week.
For the next three weeks, keep a gratitude journal, and experience the benefits of gratitude for yourself. Near the end of each day, create a list of three to ten gratitudes. Anything goes. Just tap into what’s coming up, and jot it down. Re-read what you’ve written, and feel the gratitude overflowing in your heart and soul. You just might discover a smile on your face.