Counselling Chronicle (14)
As a discipline, psychology is increasingly moving towards a greater focus on the strengths and virtues that allow a person to thrive. Combating a previous focus of psychology on deficits, weaknesses and illness, Positive Psychology asks what a person needs to lead a meaningful and fulfilled life. This issue of the Counselling is part of a three-part series focusing on Positive Psychology, and the ways in which we can implement Positive Psychology principles and findings in our everyday lives in order to flourish.
The science and benefits of practicing gratitude is gaining increasing attention in recent times. With its roots in positive psychology and religion, gratitude has a long history. Practicing gratitude means paying attention to what we are thankful for, and expressing acknowledgement and appreciation for that thing/person/opportunity etc.
Some people practice gratitude by keeping a journal of the things they are grateful for, others write letters of thanks. No matter how someone practices gratitude, the science on the benefits of practicing gratitude is overwhelming. Studies have demonstrated that practicing gratitude improves:
· Overall sense of well-being – people who are more grateful are typically more agreeable, open and less neurotic. They also report higher levels of life satisfaction.
· Relationships – people who express greater levels of gratitude in interpersonal relationships tend to me more willing to forgive and less narcissistic in relationships. Gratitude in relationships also strengthens the relationships and improves reported levels of relationship connection and satisfaction.
· Mental health – people who practice gratitude report reductions in their pre-existing anxiety and depression symptoms
· Stress – people who practice gratitude report lower stress levels
For a more thorough explanation on the benefits of gratitude, this video is worth your time to watch it… An experiment in Gratitude – Science of Happiness
Of most interest is the finding that practicing gratitude most significantly improves reported levels of happiness in people who were the least happy when they walked through the door.
So ask yourself, how can I practice more gratitude in my everyday life?