Gratitude – The Quintessential Virtue

November is the month where Americans love to recall all they are grateful for. The increased time spent with family solidifies feelings of comfort and peace. We spend our time around the Thanksgiving turkey talking about what we are grateful for, but what does this mean for us in the long run?

Statistics show that gratitude enhances likeability. Why is this important? Gratitude is considered an “attribute of the persuader.” Likeability enhances your power of persuasion, and gratitude enhances your likeability. So, if we want to become more likeable and enjoyable to be around, we ought to become more grateful. How do we achieve this? A team of social scientists (Emmons & McColough, 2003) had this question, and took it upon themselves to find out.

In order to cultivate gratitude, we must first encourage people to talk about it. The researchers learned that there are three elements to help guide people in their discussion and awareness of the virtue itself. These three elements are as follows:

1. The person must be aware of having been the recipient of some valuable benefit.
2. The person must acknowledge that the source of the benefit was outside of themselves.
3. The person hadn’t done anything in particular to be worthy of the benefit.

The researchers created an experiment and divided their chosen sample into three groups. All three groups wrote in a daily journal, but their prompts differed. Group one wrote “I am grateful for…” Group two wrote “I am frustrated by…” and group three were simply told to just make a list. It didn’t matter what the subject of the list was. It could be grocery lists, packing lists, inventory lists, or anything in between.

Researchers learned that through simply talking about and acknowledging gratitude, group one reported higher levels of health, happiness, and productivity.  In contrast to group two and group three, subjects from group one reported increased optimism, improved sleep habits, fewer physical symptoms, less bitterness, and higher levels of enthusiasm! They even exercised more frequently than the other two groups.

Astonishingly, the benefits didn’t extend only to adults, but to children as well. Every day, children were asked to write a similar list of who or what they were grateful for. These young subjects reported higher levels of positive attitudes toward school and family. The older children even reported less acne!

This is astonishing. Simply writing about what you are grateful for not only leads to increased emotional and psychological levels, but physical as well! The question is, what does this mean for you? We implore you to take our Gratitude challenge. For one month, write down, each day, something you are grateful for…anything at all! At the end of the week, if you find that you had written down a specific name of a person who you are grateful for, reach out to them. Write a letter. Give them a call. Let them know you are thankful for them. We think, and the research agrees, that at the end of this month, you will find yourself happier, healthier, and more productive.

Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but it is the parent of all others. -Cicero

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