Saturday, May 8, 2010

Expressing Gratitude Frequently Produces Happiness

One way to practice being happy is to achieve it by altering one's state of mind with generosity, kindness and gratitude. This is done by consciously noting  instances of them in everyday life. Having greater frequency of them increases happiness.

"The How of Happiness" (p. 89-101) by S. Lyubomirsky has many related reports on psychological studies. This self-help guide should be deeply exciting to everyone in need of free, easy antidotes to depression. Certain participants in studies were asked to write  five things for which they were thankful, to count their blessings once a week for ten weeks in a row. They reported back having more optimism, life satisfaction and fewer physical symptoms. Other studies in the book have shown the count-your-blessings strategy produces many positive emotions such as interest, excitement, joy and pride, helping others, feeling connected with others, and sleeping better.

One mother on the "Rachael Ray" television show suggested recording a few of these expressions from children daily before the evening meal while they are waiting. It may take weeks, but in time children will begin to focus more on the positive. These feelings of gratitude become more immediate, and turn into positive feelings of anticipation for  the future. They learn through positive reinforcement these activities will produce thankful feelings. It works. All ages can benefit from this game.

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