David J. Pollay, MAPP '06, is a co-founder of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). David has an Economics degree from Yale University and has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, MasterCard, Global Payments and AIESEC. He is an Executive Coach who specializes in business relationships. He is also an author and keynote speaker known for his best-selling books, The Law of the Garbage Truck (how to navigate negativity) and The 3 Promises (how to create personal fulfillment every day). David's articles are here. For permission to reprint David's articles, please contact him.
I checked on Dawn and the girls. Dawn was sleeping. And Eliana and Ariela were sprawled across our bed fast asleep. We let them stay up a little later than usual (sometimes we let them fall asleep on our bed, and then I carry them upstairs to their rooms). As I was heading from our bedroom to the kitchen, I stopped in the foyer to look at two pieces of mail that were opened and sitting on a shelf. I reached for the one on top. It was a letter. It was addressed to Dawn. I read the first two lines.
“Thank you for your recent visit to our facility. Your digital mammogram shows no evidence of cancer.”
I stopped. I didn’t read the rest of the letter. I just thought about what it could have said. Then I thought about all the other letters that were opened today, and the letters that would be opened tomorrow. Many thousands of women would be blessed with good news. I also thought about all the women around the world who had received or will receive the news they fear most.
Then I had what I call a “gratitude moment.”
I headed to a window. I looked outside and took in the big world. And I said thank you. Thank you for blessing the health of my wife, children, parents, and all of my family. Thank you for caring for my friends and colleagues. And I said thank you for everything that is good in my life.
I know letters and phone calls could come at any time with news I would never want to hear. So, when I am reminded of the good in my life, I stop and say thank you. I want to always appreciate the abundance in my life.
The science of positive psychology now points us to the psychological and physical benefits of feeling grateful. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Michael McCollough of the University of Miami found in their research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: “There do appear to exist benefits to regularly focusing on one’s blessings. The advantages are most pronounced when compared with a focus on hassles or complaints…”
In one study Emmons and McCollough “…found that a weekly benefit listing was associated with more positive and optimistic appraisals of one’s life, more time spent exercising, and fewer reported physical symptoms.” In another study they discovered: “People led to focus on their blessings were also more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or offered emotional support to another…” And in one more study the research pair found that people induced to feel gratitude experienced “…greater levels of positive affect, more sleep, better sleep quality, and greater optimism and a sense of connectedness to others.”
The evidence is in: Gratitude pays dividends to all who practice it.
So, would you join me this week on a special journey?
This week look for the reminders of the good in your life. And when you find them, stop and say thanks. You have much to celebrate in your life.
Emmons, R. & McCullough, M. Eds. (2004). The Psychology of Gratitude (Series in Affective Science). Oxford University Press.
Emmons, R. (2007) Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflan Company.
circum amada courtesy of Gifted Photographer