In my previous post, I described the benefits that cultivating an attitude of gratitude brings to our lives. But let’s explore this further. Gratitude isn’t just something we celebrate in the U.S. and Canada at Thanksgiving time. It’s more important than that for successful living. What actually is gratitude?

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and expert on gratitude, says that gratitude has two key components:

  1. An affirmation of goodness: When you feel gratitude, you affirm that you live in a benevolent world.
  2. A recognition that the source of this goodness comes from outside of yourself: You acknowledge that other people (or higher powers) provide you with “gifts” that improve your life in some way.

According to Emmons, gratitude is “a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

Gratitude and Health

One area of life that we often take for granted and forget to experience gratitude is health – sometimes until it’s too late.

We tend to take our health for granted until we’re suddenly in the throes of pain or a debilitating illness… If you have good health and all your mental faculties intact, you also have the prerequisite basics for doing something about the less satisfactory situations in your life. ~ Dr. Joseph Mercola, physician and wellness expert.

How to Cultivate Gratitude

First, start by cultivating gratitude for the little things, which will foster a more deep-seated sense of happiness. Like a muscle, your sense of gratitude can be strengthened with practice, each time you express it. One way to do this is by writing down who and what you are grateful for.

Consider creating a personal journal to express your thoughts and insights, which will also help you move through problems and come to solutions. There are a number of digital apps that allow you to journal from anywhere at any time.

In his Beginner’s Guide to Digital Journaling, Bakari Chavanu lists his four favorite apps, including Penzu, which allows you to express your private thoughts by providing password protection (for both your journal and individual entries).

What are you doing to pay attention to this key emotion and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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