The Prevailing Power of Gratitude

The Prevailing Power of Gratitude

Andrey Popov

Katie Shaw, Staff Writer

During this atypical time, it’s far too easy to submit to the slump of fear, loneliness, or boredom that isolation may bring. However, it is during this time that the power of gratitude is essential. Counting the fortunes that we are surrounded with every day is not only a key component of building a positive outlook, but a crucial skill to life-long happiness. 

Robert Emmons from Berkeley University describes gratitude in two parts. “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.” Being mindful that, though life can be tumultuous and troublesome, you are surrounded by loved ones and things worth appreciating is what makes the difficult times surmountable. Whether it’s your family, closest friends, your favorite celebrity, the plant you grew, the delicious food someone made you, the sunrise you got to see that morning, finding the small joys of life, especially throughout a challenging time, makes all the difference. 

The second part of Emmons’ view of gratitude is seeing things and people outside of oneself with a positive, appreciative light. “…true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives,” stated Emmons in a seminar on the power of gratitude. The ability to recognize the good and gifts in others is a skill that allows one to love and to flourish in the world around them.

In countless studies, practices of gratitude have been linked to an increase in both mental and physical well-being. In research conducted by Berkeley University on over a thousand participants, the simple act of maintaining a gratitude journal directly resulted in a host of benefits. The participants, after expressing gratitude in this form, displayed stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and better sleep. They reported an increase of positive emotions and feeling more energetic and joyful. Due to practicing gratitude, the participants experienced drastically improved social lives in which they were more forgiving, outgoing, and compassionate. Emmons notes that the social benefits of the study were especially important due to the correlation between gratitude and appreciating the people around you, like he had previously discussed in his two components of gratitude. 

Though the news and the panic of the current time can be very disheartening, we must realize and remember the extreme power of gratitude. Take into account the things and people you love, the opportunities that you have been granted in this time, and the fortunes you will still have after the world heals. Challenge yourself to make a log of one thing you are grateful for each day, or to tell one person you love the reasons you appreciate them every week, and see how your outlook changes. I am grateful that I have the ability to write such things as this that might be read by you and inspire you or help to improve your well-being in this time. 

Robert Emmons’ Seminar on the Power of Gratitude:

“Why Gratitude is Good”, Robert Emmons’ study at Berkeley University:

All images via Stock Photos