“I cannot tell you anything that, in a few minutes, will tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful… It is the only totally reliable get-rich-scheme.”
– Ben Stein, actor, comedian, economist
A strong b eginning for Professor Robert A Emmons’ discussion of his pioneering work on the effects of gratitude in our lives. The book is called ‘Thanks! – How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier’. We can all recognize the grateful and the ungrateful people around us. But have you ever stopped to wonder which side you are leaning towards? Have you ever stopped to wonder what a major impact a little bit of gratitude can have in your life? Do you know how you can practice to increase your level of gratitude in your life?
Professor Robert Emmons is currently the world’s leading expert on the psychology of gratitude. Interestingly, he himself claims that has never been a very grateful person. During his undergraduate studies he was fascinated by how researchers chose their topics and believed that people study topics that they are deficient in. He calls his more current theory the ‘concordant self-perfection model’. According to this model people yearn to become more of what they already are. Gratitude is a great fit for this model as gratitude is not an event or a moment, but rather an ever-evolving process.
In the beginning of the book Professor Emmons takes the reader through a discussion of gratitude, including its’ effect on the psyche and presence in our everyday lives and religion. The discussion is colored with examples and is made interesting by considering gratitude during the times of hardship. Intuitively, it is extremely difficult to remain grateful during the difficult times. The unbiased and neutral tone of the author makes the discussion feel unbiased and informative.
Probably one of the strongest reasons to read this book is the Chapter 7 ‘Practicing Gratitude’. The earlier discussion shows how gratitude is a process, a journey or an obtained skill. As with any process, time is needed. And as with any skill, the mastery cannot be obtained overnight. We are all works in progress and we all have our own journey to take. In order to accommodate for most of such journeys, the Chapter discusses ten different practices for increasing the level of gratitude in your life. Thousands of volunteers have been involved in his studies to determine the efficiencies of these practices. The discussion reveals that in his research he has found out that the most effective and most long-lasting tool to increase the level of your gratitude is gratitude journaling. He suggests that the journaling would be done by writing three to five items down once a week. He has observed that by writing one thing down every day most people become repetitive or get tired of journaling. This happens much less with the first option.
Often we incorrectly assume that gratefulness is a character trade we are born with. The current book is a great tool in increasing the awareness how gratefulness is a learned and practiced skill that has the potential of making miracles. Professor Robert Emmons believes that increasing the national state of gratitude would change the world. After reading this book including the discussed research results, I can only agree with him.
This book is a must-read for anyone that is looking to challenge their current way of thinking as well as for anyone ready for a drastic positive change in their life. I highly recommend the read.
Katianna Pihakari, the founder of Simply Dynamic Coaching, is an inspiring coach specializing in helping business executives and entrepreneurs in achieving their optimal performance under high stress environments. Contact Simply Dynamic Coaching today to discuss how your unique situation could be simplified and improved.
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