The Art of Gratitude

March 8, 2016 010photo by Eva 2016

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.”                       Wayne Dyer

I like to enter sweepstakes and contests…just for the fun of it(…I know a lot of people spend a little time every day playing the various games on Facebook, etc., I enter sweepstakes.

There are usually several sweepstakes for books and I was pleasantly surprised two weeks ago when a package came in the mail with a book I’d won…”The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan.  “How a year of looking on the bright side can transform your life”>

The words “grateful” and “gratitude” have seemed to be showing up everywhere lately and my first thought skimming through the book was, “it’s all nice but really, could just feeling grateful change my life that drastically?”  Since the new year, I had been focusing on being grateful…not to the degree of actually writing it down, but consciously making an effort.  If I’m driving alone in the car to/from work, etc., I’ll consciously focus on everything I’m grateful for…whether it is presently in my life or not.  When the book arrived that day, my first thought was, “well, I must be on the right track but it looks like I need to amp it up a bit.”

This book is one that needs to be read in its’ entirety first and when you are ready to start implementing it, reading each month’s chapter.  Janice Kaplan naturally starts hers in January but starting any month of the years absolutely works.  Each month focuses on a different area.

What I really liked about this book is not that she is telling you how to be grateful…but all of her research and quotes…making it a well thought out book.

The four seasons each deal with a different topic:  Part 1 was Marriage, Love and Family. Part 2 was Money, Career, and the Stuff we own.  Part 3 was Gratitude and Health.  Part 4 was Coping, Caring and Connecting.

Some of her interesting research comments include:

“Around 18.5% of individual differences in people’s happiness can be predicted by the amount of gratitude they feel” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

“Researchers have found that people who write down three things they’re grateful for every night(or even a few times a week) improve their well being and lower their risk of depression”.

“Grateful people reframe whatever happens to them.  They don’t focus on what they’re lacking, they make sure they see the good in what they have.” Dr. Robert Emmons

“Experts used to claim that it took just twenty-one days to form a new habit, but a recent study out of Universal College, London, found that most of us need more than two months and sometimes as many as six to make a real change in behavior.”

Dr. Brent Atkinson, Northern Illinois University/Couples Clinic and Research Institute…”believes there is strong neurological evidence showing that circuits in the brain can be primed to create stronger feelings of connection.”  He advises clients to sit for five minutes a day and dwell on good feelings or happy times they’ve had with their spouse. “Studies suggest that these simple mental practices can strengthen the neural circuits that generate feelings of connection.”

and lastly…

The “looking-for-the-good approach”  “Filter everything through the lens of gratitude and come out with a completely different response.”

This is a book worth reading and let’s face it, if we can change our lives simply by the act of being grateful, it is well worth implementing.






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