Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.
I do love the food. I do love reconnecting with friends and family. But I appreciate most the simple call to action the holiday invokes in me …
Slow down. Count your blessings. Be thankful.
That combination makes me feel good right down to my core. When I acknowledge the many wonderful aspects of my life, it’s difficult to feel bad.
This deliberate, nationwide practice of gratitude once per year is nice. But scientists have found a strong connection between gratitude and happiness anytime of year. It turns out that practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools each of us have to consistently make ourselves happier and healthier.
The Study of Gratitude and Happiness
In a pioneering study, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami asked participants to each write something in a journal every week during a 10-week study.
- The first group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for from the previous week.
- The second group was asked to write down things from the previous week that irritated or displeased them.
- The third group was asked to just write down things from the previous week.
After 10 weeks, the first group was measurably happier and felt better about their lives than the other two groups. Even more, the first group also exercised an average of 1.5 hours more and had fewer visits to the doctor!
There are many more studies like this one, and they all suggest some specific ways to apply this idea of practicing gratitude. Here are just a few:
- Gratitude journaling, either daily or weekly like in the study
- Verbalizing appreciation to people like your spouse, kids, employees, and tenants
- Saying thanks before a meal
- Writing thank you notes (which boosts your happiness and the happiness of the person who receives the letter)
In addition to affecting your well-being, other studies show your attitude of gratitude can improve your relationships with others (and even make you sexier!).
As with many ideas in the world of psychology, it’s not clear the cause of these connections. But what do you have to lose? There are no negative side effects to this happiness prescription!
My Nightly Practice of Gratitude
When I first read about this idea (in this awesome Philosophers Note by Brian Johnson), I decided it was too good not to start right away.
So, fairly consistently for the last few years, I have pulled out a notebook or journal before going to bed and I list 5 things I am grateful for.
The practice literally takes 2-3 minutes. It’s not difficult at all.
I just think back over the day, and I write down whatever comes to mind. Often it’s about my family. Often it’s about my health. Often it’s about people, accomplishments, and projects within my business.
But whatever I write, it tends to make me feel just a little better. It stops stress in its tracks. It holds anxiety at bay. It gives me a much-needed perspective about my current life.
What Are 5 Things You Are Grateful For?
If you are considering creating your own practice of gratitude, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Why not try out the habit right now by sharing 5 things you are grateful for? I’ll go first, and then I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
- I’m grateful for the opportunity to share ideas with thousands of readers each week.
- I’m grateful that I know how to read and write (at least most of the time!)
- I’m grateful for an internet connection that allows me to connect with people in so many places.
- I’m grateful for my wife, who edits my writing so that it’s semi-coherent.
- I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow, personally and financially.
Get My Free Real Estate Investing Toolkit!
Enter your email address and click "Get Toolkit"