Counteract Negativity with Gratitude

Are you having trouble coping with any of life’s difficult, stressful, and negative experiences? Noticing something for which you are grateful can effectively counteract negative emotions. Studies have shown that a conscious focus on your blessings can have an immediate emotional benefit and can help reduce your feelings of stress.

What are you grateful for? If nothing comes to mind, it is time to refocus your attention. Even the most beautiful sight can be taken for granted when you see it every day, just as the blessings of good health, close relationships, and comfortable shelter commonly go unnoticed and under-appreciated.

Researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of Miami conducted a study and found that a control group that was instructed to notice experiences of gratitude as they were happening and to make a list of these, was 25% happier than a group that was instructed to pay attention to daily annoyances and another group that only recorded neutral life events. The gratitude group also reported more optimism than the other two groups in the study. (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, “Counting Blessings versus Burdens,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, no. 2 (2003), pp. 377-389.)

Take a few moments to look at your life with fresh eyes and identify what you have to be grateful for. Instead of just making a list, allow yourself to feel gratitude for each of these blessings. Feeling gratitude allows us to tap into deeper and more sustainable ways of experiencing fulfillment. When we are grateful for what we already have, we banish disappointment and move into a space of contentment.

As part of your gratitude practice, be sure to friend yourself and express gratitude to yourself for your efforts, traits, talents, and accomplishments. Strengthen the bonds with those in your life by moving beyond your inward feelings of gratitude and by verbally expressing gratitude to them.

Start today to establish an attitude and practice of gratitude. Employ gratitude to reduce stress and to be a better friend to yourself and to others.

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