How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Book - 2007
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The first major study of gratitude that shows how "wanting what we have" can measurably change people's lives.


Did you know that there is a crucial component of happiness that is often overlooked? Robert Emmons--editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology --examines what it means to think and feel gratefully in Thanks ! and invites readers to learn how to put this powerful emotion into practice. Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy. But there's more than science to embrace here: Emmons also bolsters the case for gratitude by weaving in writings of philosophers, novelists, and theologians that illustrate all the benefits grateful living brings. 

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., c2007
ISBN: 9780618620197
Branch Call Number: ANF 179.9 EMM
Characteristics: vi, 244 p. ; 22 cm


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ksoles Oct 09, 2014

University of California, Davis, professor and editor of The Journal of Positive Psychology, Robert Emmons, has conducted the first major scientific study of gratitude and its potential impact on human health. In "Thanks!", he reveals the results of his research, which shows that grateful people experience high levels of joy, enthusiasm and optimism. The practice of gratitude also protects a person from envy, resentment and greed and allows one to both recover more quickly from illness and cope more effectively with stress. Finally, when people experience gratitude they feel connected, altruistic and even "more loving, more forgiving, and closer to God."

These benefits of gratitude will convince even the most cynical to rethink the emotion but Emmons continues with an illuminating section covering factors that undermine the virtue. He asserts that consumerism fosters ingratitude as does forgetfulness, comparison thinking, the negativity bias, perceptions of victimhood and emotional conflicts.

Emmons feels inspired by individuals who, in the midst of suffering, have remained grateful for little things and hence transformed adversity into learning. With honesty, he admits that he finds "the sustained practice of gratitude difficult." He effortfully redirects tendencies to take life for granted and writes, "[a] thousand times a day, I too have to remind myself to be grateful and to remember how much I depend upon other people."

At the end of this thoughtful and engaging look at gratitude, the author provides 10 Prescriptions for Becoming More Grateful, including keeping a gratitude journal, coming to your senses, using visual reminders, making a vow to practice gratitude, and thinking outside the box.

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