Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Count Your Blessings

Arthur Brooks' article in this weekend's New York Times pointed me to a fascinating study about giving thanks.   In 2003, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough published a paper titled, "Counting Blessings vs. Burdens:  An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life."  The authors begin their paper by quoting Charles Dickens:  "Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."   The scholars asked some research subjects to list things for which they were grateful over a period of several weeks.  Other subjects kept lists of "hassles" - and a third control group listed neutral events.   The researchers also asked all subjects to keep records of their moods, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals during this time.  The people who kept lists of things for which they were grateful "felt better about their lives as a whole, and were optimistic regarding their expectations for the upcoming week.  They reported fewer physical complaints and reported spending significantly more time exercising."   In short, focusing on gratitude and thanksgiving can be good for you.  So, try to put aside the hassles and the worries for the next few days at least, and attempt to focus on those things for which we should be thankful.   Then let's all try to make it a routine practice to spend more time being grateful and less time being annoyed.    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

1 comment:

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