The popular saying in the gym is ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ – meaning: keep up the workout or your muscle tone will be lost. Gratitude works just like a muscle. When you take the time to recognize the good in your life, feelings of appreciation and well-being increase.
Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, is acknowledged as today’s pre-eminent expert on gratitude. Published findings from his studies on counting blessings instead of burdens (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) have shown that a conscious focus on blessings improved moods, coping skills and overall physical well-being.
Emmons says, ‘Gratitude is one of the few things that can measurably heal, energize and change people’s lives. It is a turning of the mind, not what I don’t have, but what I have already.’
Gratitude embraces your glass-half-full view of the world.
In her daytime talk show a few years ago, Oprah shared how she was inspired to keep her own gratitude journal and recommended everyone follow suit.
Her inspiration came from best selling author Sarah Ban Breathnack who wrote: ‘You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.’
Here are 3 action steps suggested by life coach Jane Ransom that can help keep that gratitude muscle well toned:
EMOTE: give expression to your gratitude. A smile can uplift your thinking.
EXTEND: expand the influence of your gratitude – call a friend, write a letter, share your grateful thoughts with family or colleagues.
EXERCISE: gratitude needs to be a daily exercise. Try writing in a gratitude journal, or downloading one of the various digital apps such as ‘Thanks a Lot’, or the ‘Happy Tapper’, a helpful way to keep track of exercising your gratitude each day.
Think of the power of gratitude shown in the time-honored story of the Apostle Paul and his companion, Silas. They sang their thanks to acknowledge the Divine presence even in the depths of a dungeon. Though their flesh was lacerated with the cruel scourge, their gratitude was strong enough to shake the very foundations of the prison, to open all its doors, and to loose every one’s fetters. (Acts Ch.16)
Gratitude is an open door to abundance for anyone. It is the key that unlocks the door to understanding that the good in your life has a constant source in the Divine.
No gym membership required.