HEALTH AND WELLBEING
And in the hassles condition: • Taxes. • Hard to find parking. • Burned my macaroni and cheese. Before the experiment began participants had kept daily journals to chronicle their moods, physical health and general attitudes. These were then used to provide a comparison for after the experimental intervention. People who were in the gratitude condition felt fully 25% happier – they were more optimistic about the future, they felt better about their lives and they even did almost 1.5 hours more exercise a week than those in the hassles or events condition. Amazing to think that seeing a sunset has such an impact on your physical state. 1) GRATITUDE FACILITATES COPING WITH STRESS When stressful events happen in life, our minds go into a state of irrationality, over analysing and negative self-talk. By consciously controlling your thoughts into positive thoughts this can increase the focus on benefits in life and on others, and reduces the maladaptive focus on losses. For example, gratitude has been associated with distinct coping styles of seeking social support, positive reframing, approach-oriented problem solving, and active coping and resilience. 2) GRATITUDE IMPROVES SELF ESTEEM When individuals practice gratitude they are able to focus on how their lives are supported and sustained by others, which might make them feel more secure and are therefore less likely to seek material goods to strengthen their self image.
Gratitude, Science or Emotion? Mark Shields Investigates... Gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. The art of gratitude is a basic practice carried out in order to benefit individuals psychologically, physically and socially and research studies in the last decade have offered scientific evidence showing that gratitude does contribute to positively psychological and social wellbeing. Emmons and McCullough (2010) examined gratitude and well being under three experimental conditions. Participants were divided into three groups: • The first group were asked to write down five things they were grateful for that had happened in the last week for each of the 10 weeks of the study. This was called the gratitude condition. • The second group were asked to write down five daily hassles from the previous week. This was the hassles condition. • The third group simply listed five events that had occurred in the last week, but not told to focus on positive or negative aspects. This was the events or control condition. The types of things people listed in the grateful condition included: • Sunset through the clouds. • The chance to be alive. • The generosity of friends. 64 | www.life-mags.com
Grateful people may also have more stable self-esteem that is less contingent upon transient success and failure experiences, contributing to their ability to cope with stress, as discussed in explanation No. 1. 3) GRATITUDE REDUCES TOXIC EMOTIONS RESULTING FROM SELF AND SOCIAL COMPARISONS Grateful individuals are less likely to engage in upward social comparisons that can result in envy or resentment, or selfcomparisons with alternative outcomes in one’s own life that can result in regret. Either type of these invidious comparisons can cause people to feel that they lack something important that either others have or that they desire for themselves. Envy is a negative emotional state characterised by resentment, inferiority, longing, and frustration about other people’s material and non-material successes. Considerable research has shown that envy creates unhappiness and is associated with a host of negative mental health indicators. 4) GRATITUDE REDUCES MATERIALISTIC STRIVINGS Gratitude and materialism represent opposing motivational goals. Gratitude may aid well-being by motivating people to fulfill basic needs of personal growth, relationships, and community — motives that are incompatible with materialism. As a route to the bolstering of well-being, gratitude may block materialistic pursuits. Materialism is damaging to subjective well-being. Materialistic adults tend to exhibit life dissatisfaction unhappiness; low selfesteem; less concern with the welfare of others; less relatedness, autonomy, competence, and meaning in life and higher levels of depressive symptoms and envy. Materialistic adults are less satisfied with their standards of living, family lives, and the amount of fun and enjoyment they experience.
WEALTH AND HEALTH