Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hundreds of Snow!

We woke up Monday morning to a winter wonderland. My daughter Elly ran from her bed to the window to me and said, "Mom? Did you see? There's hundreds of snow on the ground." I love how she looks at snow—as something to be measured by the number of snowflakes on the ground and not by the number of hassles it causes. On the way to school, I asked Elly what season she liked best. "This one!" she exclaimed. Of course. My daughter lives in the moment, completely grateful for its many gifts. 

I'm grateful for my daughter. She helps me see what's good in life. When I asked Elly why she loves snow, she had lots of reasons: 
  • "It's pretty!" 
  • "I get to wear my new boots." 
  • "We can make snow angels!"
Elly's practice—seeing what's good in life and being thankful for it—is good for her. Actually, it's good for all of us. Positive psychologists who study gratitude have learned that:
  • People who kept gratitude journals, exercised more regularly, complained less about health issues, "felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events" (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
  • People who kept gratitude journals were more likely to achieve their goals. 
  • People who practiced gratitude were more likely to help other people with problems. 
  • Children who practice gratitude "have more positive attitudes toward school and their families" (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
(For more information on the gratitude research of Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, see Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness.)

Got that? Keep a gratitude journal—or simply be grateful— and you're going to feel better, exercise more, and be more likely to achieve your own goals. (And that's just the beginning!) If gratitude were a pill, people would be lining up for it.

Your assignment this weekend: look for the good in each moment and say thank you. Yup, I'm even talking about those less-than-pleasant moments. Stuck in traffic? Annoyed by your family at Thanksgiving dinner? Cold? Ask yourself, "What's good in this?" Think about how a child would make good from that kind of situation. If that doesn't work, meditate on these words from Van Halen's song, Best of Both Worlds: 

You don't have to die to go to heaven
Or hang around to be born again
Just tune into what this place has got to offer
Cause we may never be here again.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

For more inspiration, check out the amazing poem Gratitude by Mary Oliver, from her book What Do We Know.

To learn more about the science of gratitude, read this book by Robert Emmons.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. Here's a link you may be interested in a site by David Stendal-Rast.