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What research reveals about the impact of gratitude
Robert Emmons of the University of California and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami are engaged in a joint long term research project on gratitude. They aim to establish the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being. They've already published some interesting results. (1)
First result: gratitude improves well-being
Seven hundred people were involved in one of their first studies. They were divided into three groups. One practised daily gratitude, while the others undertook different 'control' exercises which did not involve gratitude. The 'gratitude' group were significantly more alert, enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic than the groups who were not practising gratitude. They felt better about themselves and their lives.
Second result: gratitude improves mental and physical health
A particularly interesting finding was that the 'gratitude group' - who kept a daily record of things they felt grateful for during the study - had better immune system function and were less likely to be affected by physical illness. They exercised more regularly than members of the other groups, and were less likely to become depressed.
Third result: gratitude helps you get on in life
The study monitored not only how people felt, but also what they were doing while participating in the study. Those who were practising daily gratitude made more progress towards personal goals than those who were not. Academic studies apply strict statistical rules to determine whether findings are 'significant'. So for such a finding to be reported, something measurably distinctive must be going on.
But what have you got to be grateful for, exactly?
It can be surprisingly difficult to determine where to 'aim' your gratitude. Contemporary western culture gives the impression that we are all 'entitled' to the good things of life. At the same time, the 'good things' are implicitly and explicitly defined as material wealth, and happiness is equated with more stuff. Now, delayed gratification is no longer widely encouraged or valued.
The combined effect of these cultural pressures is to make us feel resentful and frustrated rather than grateful. If we don't get what we want (which of course we are 'entitled' to), we feel cheated and hard done by. What's to be grateful for? We lose sight of the significance of the small pleasures of life, and especially those which are not directly tangible, or which don't have a 'market price'.
So how can you rediscover the attitude of gratitude?
Even if the cultural bias is against you, or you feel that your own life doesn't seem to offer you much to be glad about, it is possible to ignite - and maintain - a gratitude attitude which will transform your life. Partly it's about recapturing the attitude of very small children (and you were once a very small child). Small children find the most mundane aspects of the world thrilling and enchanting. You can remember how to do that too.
Using hypnosis to reawaken your sense of gratitude to be alive
When you have forgotten your birthright, the most powerful and effective way to remember and revive it is to use the power of your unconscious mind. Our unconscious minds hold many treasured memories which have been obscured during the course of our lives. Hypnosis can bring them back to light and make them available to you again.