This is part 1 of a 3 part series on gratitude and how you too can be creating an even more happy and fulfilling life if you begin cultivating gratitude daily.

The Science of Gratitude

If there was a really easy and simple solution to you being happier, healthier, more productive and feel a greater sense of well-being, would you want to have that solution?

If that solution didn't involve spending any money and instead actually saved you lots of money because you would even visit the doctor much less, would that be even more interesting for you?

And on top of all that, what if it hardly took you any time to use this powerful solution, can you imagine the benefits of using it now?

What am I talking about? Well, GRATITUDE.

The practice of cultivating gratitude is not just some fluffy idea that's nice to talk about or some new age idea that has come up in the recent past. There's a science behind it.

There's been a lot of research done on gratitude, the most well known having been done by psychologist, Dr. Robert Emmons..

Dr. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.

He's also the author of these books, all of which are interesting and valuable reads:

  1. Gratitude Works! A 21 Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity
  2. Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
  3. Words of Gratitude
  4. The Psychology of Gratitude.

He, along with many other researchers have run several studies on different groups of people many times over. Having studied thousands of people, from the ages of 8 to 80, they found that the people who practiced and cultivated gratitude were able to get a ton of benefits simply by practicing one simple thing daily.

Practice what?

Really easy.

Keeping a “Daily Gratitude Journal”

Here are some of the benefits that were experienced by those people who kept a daily gratitude journal for only 3 weeks.

Physically:

  • Their immune systems got stronger.
  • Most of the aches and pains they were feeling were less bothersome.
  • They all saw a lowering of blood pressure.
  • They naturally wanted to exercise more and felt a natural inclination to take better care of their health.
  • And they even slept deeper longer and woke up feeling refreshed.

Psychologically:

  • They experienced and were more focused on positive emotions.
  • They felt more alert, alive and awake.
  • They felt more joy and pleasure.
  • They were largely more optimistic and happy.

Socially:

  • They naturally wanted to be more helpful, generous and compassionate with others.
  • Found themselves more forgiving, outgoing, and less lonely.

The key takeaway is that the sense of gratitude must be something you feel or an experience you have inside, rather than just a logical thought.

So while you writing in your daily gratitude journal all those things you are grateful for, allow your mind to envision those things and really feel the goodness that has come from it.

Other Benefits of Experiencing Gratitude on a Consistent Basis

1. Extract more from each experience of life. 

The more and more you practice being grateful for what you have, what you experience or what you're able to do etc, the more you're going to build that muscle of celebrating. The more you build the muscle the quicker and easier it will be to use that muscle.

So what will happen over a period of time is, you will naturally find yourself in situations or experiences being aware of what there is or how much there is to be grateful for.

That in turn will make you be more present in each experience you have.

If you're being more present in each experience you have, you will obviously see more, hear more and feel more.

And if you combine being more present with a well developed muscle of noticing all that you can be grateful for, you will naturally experience more pleasure from each experience.

More Gratitude = More Present = More Pleasure/Benefit = More Gratitude.

It's just an endless looping cycle if gratitude and success, isn't it?

2. Naturally block negative or undesired emotions.

Intelligent people such you and I are aware of all the negative thoughts and emotions we experience regularly even if we don't want to. That's just life sometimes.

But trying to get rid of or stop those negative thoughts and emotions hasn't worked so well in the past has it? And chances are it won't well. There's a reason for that but let's stay on topic.

So instead of trying to get rid of, block or stop negative emotions, what would happen if you just built up the muscle of gratitude?

What good can you imagine happening if you consistently, every day, trained your brain to record, capture, notice and become aware of all the goodness in each experience?

If you focused more and more on what's great in each experience and in daily life, the negative undesired stuff would naturally not be able to take up so much space in your brain, would it?

Therefore rather that “try” to stop thinking negatively, why not simply train yourself to focus more and more on the great stuff you can be grateful for?

You will naturally experience less of the undesired emotions and more of the positive emotions.

3. Deal with stress better and even minimize stress.

Numerous studies have proven that people who build their muscle of gratitude consistently and train themselves to extract more good they can be grateful for, have a much stronger ability to not just deal with stress, trauma, adversity better, but also recover from those situation faster.

This is obvious and related to the previous point. It's all about what you're going to focus more on, the negative or positive, what's broken or what's still working.

Perspective is the key here.

4. Increase your self-worth.

You can read more about this in the next post of the series too but I'll give you a quick glimpse of it now.

The more you practice gratitude, the more you're going to notice how there are so many people or things around you that are there helping and contributing to you and your greater good.

People contribute to you because they see value in you and they see you as valuable. They love you, appreciate you and care for you.

Therefore, as you begin to recognize more and more how people are (or that higher power is) contributing to you and your greater good, you will naturally also begin to see the value in yourself!

That naturally, increases your sense of self-worth and you begin to value yourself more.

So what are you waiting for? Get to it.

Read part 2 of the gratitude series in the next post called, How The Daily Gratitude Practice Works So Well and you'll learn more about why gratitude works so well and how to really make it work well for you.