By Magna Parks-Porterfield, Ph.D. (Psychologist)
Gratitude – how thankful are you? We all have the capacity to express gratitude. But, many of us fall short in this area. Psychologists have actually studied the habits of “grateful” people and what they’ve found is quite insightful. In an article on this topic, author Jeremy Smith shares some of these findings. Here is a summary of what he discovered:
1. Once in a while they think about death and loss. Several studies show that when this is done, it makes you more grateful for the life you have at the present time.
2. They take the good things as gifts, not birthrights. Their humility and appreciation of life prevents them from feeling that others owe them things because they’re special or somehow deserving of it.
3. They’re not only grateful for things, but for people. They recognize the importance of relationships and express this openly – this may include sharing with family members or someone else who does something they appreciate, such as a courteous service person or the friendly flight attendant.
4. They mention specific things. Grateful people pay attention to details and make specific statements to express their gratitude such as “I really appreciate that you got up early to make my breakfast this morning.”
5. They thank outside the box. Dr. Robert Emmons, one of the experts in the study of gratitude says the following: “It’s easy to feel grateful for the good things. No one ‘feels’ grateful that he or she has lost a job or a home or good health or has taken a devastating hit on his or her retirement portfolio.” However, research on grateful people show that they view adversity or losses as stepping-stones for growth. They are individuals who focus on the “silver lining behind every dark cloud,” so to speak.
(Adapted from *Smith, Jeremy. (2013, November 20). Six habits of grateful people. Retrieved from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_habits_of_highly_grateful_people)
As you review these habits, can you see any that you need to cultivate? If you do, there is hope! You can make a decision today to become more intentional with your expression of gratitude and practice these habits on a regular basis. In good times and in bad, the expression of gratitude will be rewarding.