2018-12-05 / Editorials

Martha Chalker

Benefits of Gratitude

We have discussed how showing genuine appreciation and gratitude to our spouse can significantly contribute to a healthier, happier marriage. The benefits of gratitude go much farther than just marital relationships. Acknowledging, appreciating and showing gratitude affects everyone you encounter in life; friends, family, co-workers and even strangers. In fact, gratitude makes people like us more. When we are perceived as nicer, more social and appreciative of others, it helps us make more friends and deepen our existing relationships as well as improving our marriage. Those who are genuinely grateful and mindfully practice it, spend more time exercising, experience less physical pain, are less likely to suffer from depression and experience better sleep quality.

Ingratitude is universally regarded with contempt. Being grateful in general and toward your spouse in particular will earn you the respect of others. Studies have shown gratitude induces pro-social behavior. Consider keeping a gratitude journal for a week. This step alone is enough to make you more likely to help your spouse and other people, and yes, even strangers with problems and to offer them emotional support. Gratitude makes us happier and more energetic, both of which are highly linked to pro-social behavior. When questioned on Face Book about why she would go on her long morning run in 30 degree weather, my 60-something year old neighbor responded with “Because I can!” She was grateful to be able to run. She’s an energetic and happy person. Does that affect her marriage or any of her other relationships? I suspect it does; she speaks highly of her husband all the time.

Gratitude and positive emotions in general help us relax. Try practicing thankfulness and positivity if you find it hard getting to sleep at night. Chances are stress from a hard day at work and worries about tomorrow contribute to keeping you awake. Many psychology and coaching classes teach deep breathing techniques to help people relax. We often suggest closing eyes and picturing a favorite spot like the beach and focusing on that sensation complete with the sights, sounds and smells. Now try adding the practice of mindful awareness around the calmness and comfort your own home can offer. When the house is quiet for the night breathe in the familiar scents around you. Include your favorite scents from the bath, freshly laundered sheets and your spouse. Also include the feel of soft sheets, the whispering, giggling children from another room and the warm body next to you. Appreciating and loving where you are at this moment will help you relax and fall peacefully asleep. And when you can be relaxed enough and get that much needed rest, you will be better equipped to express love, gratitude and appreciation with everyone including yourself. Appreciating and acknowledging your friends, family and spouse for all they bring to your life will bring you all more joy, contentment and happiness. When these feelings and behaviors come from the heart, you will experience the good thing life has to offer.

So, bottom line is practicing the attitude of gratitude is good for YOU!

Here are some of my favorite quotes that may help motivate you to live life with an attitude of gratitude.

“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness”. Anonymous

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around”. Willie Nelson

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for”. Zig Zigler

“ Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough”. Oprah Winfrey

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle”. Albert Einstein

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that happiness doubled by wonder”. Gilbert K. Chesterton

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some”. Charles Dickens

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”. William Arthur Ward

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”. Anonymous ( Sometimes attributed to Helen Keller).

Martha Chalker is a personal and business coach with over 20 years of experience. She also practices cognitive therapy providing the PACE and MTC programs with Learning Enhancement Centers. She can be reached at 706-564-4458.

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