Just for Today – I will count my Blessings!

Well, for one, research shows the amazing benefits of gratitude!

Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted an experiment on the impact of gratitude on one’s well-being.  Several hundred participants were split into three different groups and were asked to keep daily journals.  One group was asked to keep a diary of their daily events, without emphasis on either good or bad.  A second group was asked to record their unpleasant experiences.  A third group was asked to make a list of only those things for which they were grateful. 

The results showed that those participants who kept a daily gratitude journal

  • reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy
  • experienced less stress and depression
  • exercised more
  • were more likely to help others
  • made greater progress toward achieving goals.

These studies also showed that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by about 25%.  Think about it — that’s one-quarter of your day happier!

Dr. Emmons’ research also showed that those who practiced gratitude tended to be more creative, were better able to bounce back more quickly from adversity, had stronger immune systems and stronger social relationships.  Not bad for a simple “Thank you!”

So as you go through your day, notice where your focus lies.  How much of your day is focused on your sorrows, on what you lack, on what is missing, or not enough of in your life?  How often is the focus on your blessings?  Are you grateful for what you have, what is good, what is working, and what IS enough?  The more we practice gratitude, the more we recognize all that we have to be grateful for!

Take a minute and look around.  Look at all the things that you have, and take for granted.  Do you have a roof over your head? Family? Work? Income? Food on your table? Are your eyes able to see?  Your ears able to hear?  Your arms and legs able to move?  Imagine losing any or all of these things.  Then imagine, one by one, getting them back.  To truly feel gratitude, you first must find the joy in the small things, the things that we so often take for granted.

Yes, unfortunate things will happen in your day. When they do, ask yourself, “What about this situation can I be grateful for?  What lesson can be learned?  How can I benefit from this?”   The reality is, we can’t control all things that will happen.  But what we can control is how we choose to react.

Just for today, notice the joy in the small things.  Notice what is working, what is good, and what IS enough.  Just for today, be Grateful.