Meister Eckhardt wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
It’s true that a life characterized by genuine gratitude brings so many benefits to the thankful person—emotional health, inner peace, stronger relationships, and less anxiety. What’s more, most singles know that a spirit of gratitude makes them a hundred times more attractive than their unappreciative counterparts.
Psychologist Robert Emmons has extensively studied the benefits of being thankful for daily blessings. He concluded, “Gratitude matters for well-being in countless ways. When people are grateful they experience ‘calm energy,’ they feel more alert, alive, interested, enthusiastic.”
Emmons’ research includes asking study participants to keep a “gratitude journal” in which they record at least three things a day for which they are thankful. Emmons found that people who stick with it score 25 percent higher on surveys that measure “happiness,” sleep half an hour longer, and exercise 33 percent more every week than those who don’t make gratitude a daily practice.
All of this should come as welcome news. After all, gratitude is a quality that can be developed and enhanced—it is not a characteristic you are either born with or not. No matter what your current level of thankfulness is, you can always experience more of it.
In addition to the benefits of a grateful outlook mentioned above, there are others that may be less obvious, including:
1. Gratitude “recruits” other positive emotions. When we take the time to be thankful, joy and contentment spring up as well. Forgiveness comes easier when we are busy counting our blessings instead of what we are owed by others. Negative emotions—like anger, jealousy, greed, and fear—lose power when pitted against gratitude.
2. Gratitude forces you to pay attention. The truth is we all have far more to be thankful for than we even realize. Problems always make the most noise in our lives, so we give them our attention. Making a point to cultivate gratitude quickly reveals that trouble isn’t all we have.
3. Gratitude reveals the bright side in dark times. True gratitude goes much deeper than the clichés that say “Every dark cloud has a silver lining” or “Look at the glass as half full, not half empty.” Even the bleakest of circumstances and toughest situations hold legitimate reasons to be thankful. Being thankful for even the smallest of blessings will help you withstand the pain of loneliness, broken relationships, and dashed dreams.
This is an ideal time of year to do a “gratitude self-assessment” and see if there are ways to increase your level of daily thankfulness. Try it, and watch blessings unfold in your life…including your love life.
What are you grateful for today?