The Gift of Gratitude

We often think that expressing gratitude is something we do for another person. However, new research shows that we actually get more out of showing gratitude than we might think.

A new study published by the journal of Psychological Science reveals that, although people typically believe that expressing gratitude—such as in the form of “Thank you” notes—will be perceived as “awkward,” both the giver and the receiver of the “Thank you” notes reported positive feelings after the exchange.

As this study tells us, people often feel awkward expressing their gratitude to others, but the Theology of the Body reminds us that God created us to be a gift to each other.  When you receive a gift, it is only appropriate to say, “Thank you.” Christians are called to love one another, and one of the most important ways we can love each other is by reminding each person in our lives how important, how treasured, and how special they are to us. Sometimes we can feel foolish telling other people how much they mean to us, but today, perhaps sharing our gratitude for one another can be one small way we can fulfill St. Paul’s admonision in 1 Cor 4:10 to be “fools for Christ.” Take a moment to find some small way to let the people God has brought into your life know how grateful you are to them. Tell your spouse, your kids, your family, friends, and co-workers how much you appreciate them, and don’t forget to say “thank you” even for the little things that others do for you. It’s a simple way you can be God’s blessing to others and remind others of what a blessing they are to you.

Here are three More2Life Hacks for increasing the gift of gratitude in your life:

Recognize the Gift–Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you shouldn’t say “thank you” to someone who is “just doing their job” or “just doing what they are supposed to do.” There are lots of people who don’t do their jobs and fail to do what they should.  The fact is, it takes effort to try to do what’s right and fulfill our responsibilities to one another, and it’s an effort that deserves to be recognized.  In a world that sees people as objects and takes everyone for granted, we Christians have a special duty to remind each other, and the world, how important each and every person is in the eyes of God and how precious a gift it is when someone does something–anything–to make our lives a little easier or more pleasant. Be that person who recognizes the gifts others give you today. Acknowledge everything someone does for you today with a simple “thank you” and a smile.

Celebrate the People In Your Life–Is there someone you especially appreciate? Someone who makes a difference in your life just by being who they are? When was the last time you told them how important they are to you? Today, take a minute to actually hand write a short note to tell them how much they mean to you. You might thank them for something specific they did, or for how they make you feel, or just thank them for being in your life. Let them know what a gift they are to you and how you wouldn’t be the same without them. Then drop it in the mail or leave it someplace where they can be surprised to find it later on. It doesn’t take much effort, but you’d be surprised by how much of a difference this little effort can make.

Get Happy–Research shows that people who make an effort to practice simple gratitude habits can increase their happiness set point by up to 30%.  Your happiness set point is the natural level of happiness you experience in your everyday life and it is remarkably stable. Whether people are surprised by good things or frustrated by unpleasant events, they tend to return to their happiness set point fairly shortly thereafter. But simple acts of gratitude like keeping a gratitude journal, saying “thank you” to others, and finding simple ways to acknowledge how much the people in your life mean to you have been shown to significantly increase a person’s happiness set point, increasing their overall sense of wellbeing and joy.  It turns out, the best way to be a happier person is to remind yourself to express thanks for all the little blessings you’ve been given and all the people who bless your life everyday.

If you have questions or want to learn more, tune in to More2Life—Monday through Friday, 10am E/9am C on EWTN, SiriusXM 130. Or visit us at CatholicCounselors.com.

Expressing gratitude makes us healthier: Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?

18191493_1311302735584900_467444707_n

Gratitude journals, #grateful quotes, appreciation lists, oh my! Expressing gratitude seems to be a growing trend right now, but are these seemingly small practices of expressing gratitude enough to have an impact on our overall well-being?

New research by Stephen Yoshimura and Kassandra Berzins for the National Communication Association’s Review of Communication shows that, “Gratitude consistently associates with many positive social, psychological, and health states, such as an increased likelihood of helping others, optimism, exercise, and reduced reports of physical symptoms.” 

It has been consistently demonstrated that both experiencing and expressing gratitude increases life satisfaction, vitality, hope, and optimism. Furthermore, expressing gratitude can decrease one’s experience of depression, anxiety, and stress related burn-out. Because of this, being grateful contributes to the long-term success of relationships and personal well-being.

“Perhaps most intriguing is that people who experience and express gratitude have reported fewer symptoms of physical illness, more exercise, and better quality of sleep. Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?”

For more information on experiencing gratitude and increasing your personal relationships and well-being, check out For Better…Forever! Don’t forget to tune in to More2Life, Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio, SiriusXM 139.

A Struggle with Gratitude at the Heart of Materialism, Study Says

We tend to pick on materialists for being grasping, shallow people but it turns out that might not be the case.  According to new research from Baylor University, what drives materialism is a struggle to feel grateful for what one has and the belief that happiness is always just around the corner with the next acquisition, the next accomplishment, the next goal achieved.  People who are better at being grateful can still achieve goals, but they can do so from a position of strength.  They recognize the goodness of what they have and the blessings that the people, and relationships, and yes, the possessions in their life bring.

Gratitude is a positive mood. It’s about other people,” said study lead author Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Previous research that we and others have done finds that people are motivated to help people that help them — and to help others as well. We’re social creatures, and so focusing on others in a positive way is good for our health.” But materialism tends to be “me-centered.” A material outlook focuses on what one does not have, impairing the ability to be grateful for what one already has, researchers said.

“Our ability to adapt to new situations may help explain why ‘more stuff’ doesn’t make us any happier,” said study co-author James Roberts, Ph.D., holder of The Ben H. Williams Professorship in Marketing in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. “As we amass more and more possessions, we don’t get any happier — we simply raise our reference point,” he said. “That new 2,500-square-foot house becomes the baseline for your desires for an even bigger house. It’s called the Treadmill of Consumption. We continue to purchase more and more stuff but we don’t get any closer to happiness, we simply speed up the treadmill.”

Study results were based on an analysis of 246 members of the department of marketing in a mid-sized private university in the southwestern United States, with an average age of 21. They took part in a 15-minute survey using a 15-item scale of materialism. Previous research suggests that materialists, despite the fact they are more likely to achieve material goals, are less satisfied overall with their lives. They are more likely to be unhappy and have lower self-esteem. They also are more likely to be less satisfied with relationships and less involved in community events. Meanwhile, those who are grateful are likely to find more meaning in life, previous research shows.

The study notes that ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus advised, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  READ MORE