Robert Emmons of the University of California-Davis found that people who wrote down five things for which they were grateful in weekly or daily journals were not only more joyful, they were healthier, less stressed, more optimistic and more likely to help others. Focussing on what we have to be grateful for raises our perceived state of self and so elevates our mood (see Julian Simon's mood ratio). Another way to lift your spirits, says Martin Seligman, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center, is to seek out and thank someone who has made a difference in your life.
According to Time magazine (Jan 17, 2005) University of California at Riverside psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky is using grant money from the National Institutes of Health to study the effect of conscientiously counting one's blessings once a week. Like Robert Emmons she observed that subjects significantly increased thier overall satisfaction with life over a period of six weeks.
The following poem teaches us that there is a reason to be grateful even when we face adversity.
Be Thankful... Even For The Pain
Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made an effort.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
c o p y r i g h t ( c ) 1 9 9 9 -2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises. All rights reserved
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