Positive psychology is at the heart of my coaching practice (though I am not a psychologist – check out “What is health coaching anyway” ). A relatively new field, positive psychology focuses on strengths (more on that in an upcoming blog post) instead of weakness, builds the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and takes the lives of average people up to “great” instead of focusing solely on moving those who are struggling up to “normal” (Peterson, 2008).
In this blog post, I would like to explore with you an important part of positive psychology research that you can easily apply in your own life: the emotion of gratitude.
Here’s a frequent scene: A young child receives a gift. His/her mum: “what do we say when somebody gives us something?” “Thank you”, says the child, looking slightly embarrassed while at the same time proud for remembering these two very important words. As children, we learn that it is polite to thank people who offer a service. As adults, “thank you” comes out of our mouths automatically several times a day. But are we being truly, deeply grateful, and why does it matter if we are?
What is gratitude doing in a health coaching blog?
Simple: gratitude promotes health, and the research is there to prove it. Studies involving adolescents, relationship marketing, and even school children found gratitude to be one of the most important markers of well-being. New research is also exploring how gratitude works to improve our mental health and has already shown that it helps against depression. You might be surprised to hear that gratitude has been linked to better mood and sleep, less fatigue, and more self-efficacy. It also lowers the stress hormone cortisol and decelerates the effects of neurodegeneration that occurs with increasing age.
Sounds great, right? Where can I find it?
The good news is: gratitude is free and accessible to all of us, anytime, anywhere. Using it doesn’t take a lot of time and it is an effective way to improve your well-being. The key is to practice it on a regular basis, in the same way you would practice learning a new music instrument. If you are wondering where to start from, here are some simple ideas:
Try to think of three things that you are grateful for at the end of your day. Some people feel writing them down is helpful. Be as specific as you can.
Say thank you to a person who provides a daily service to you and really mean it: your barista, the gas station guy, the postman.
Send a thank you note, email, sms, to a loved one you have been taking for granted. It might be a member of your family, a colleague, a friend, a neighbor.
Appreciate the food on your plate during your next meal. Express gratitude towards the farmer who grew your vegetables, the earth which hosted what is now your meal.
What are you grateful for today? Who would you like to thank? What moment did you particularly
appreciate during your day?
I would love to hear from you.
How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves
The Science of Gratitude: More Benefits Than Expected; 26 Studies and Counting
Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life
This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.