Showing Gratitude During the Holidays!
- Posted on December 22, 2015
By Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW
The new studies on gratitude find that there are even more benefits than expected. There are 26 new studies published that indicate that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions.
Gratitude is defined as thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received or will receive. It may be acknowledging a benefit we really did not earn. For example, I am very grateful to be born in the U.S. but I did nothing to deserve this. One only has to travel a bit or watch the news to recognize what a gift this is.
There are different types of gratitude:
An emotion—a singular emotion that lasts for only a few minutes based on an experience.
A mood—can be induced by gratitude inducing interventions such as journaling. Can give rise to more gratitude emotions.
A trait—a built in, personality level trait which determines how often and deeply we feel gratitude. Can be influenced and enhanced by creating the gratitude mood.
Expressions of gratitude reinforce moral behavior. Multiple studies how that expression of gratitude encourage pro-social behavior in the future. For example, thanking people or offering to help seems to “play it forward” encouraging others to also look for opportunities to be grateful.
Increase the gratitude in your life. Here are the techniques that are recommended:
- Every night before going to bed, write down 5 things you are grateful for that day.
- Make a conscious effort to do something nice for someone else at least once a day.
- Verbally express gratitude to those close to you for things that are easily taken for granted.
Studies have shown that doing these activities for even a few weeks increase happiness and wellbeing. Do them as a daily habit and you will increase your gratitude trait in your personality for the long term.