Reasons to Practice Gratitude
On Friday night at Ruach Shabbat I asked everyone to think about one thing that happened to them in the past week that they were grateful for. The reason we opened the service with this is exercise is because expressing gratitude has been found to be spiritually significant. When we express gratitude that is specific and linked to others it has a host of spiritual side effects for our souls.
Dr. Robert Emmons from UC Davis in his book “Gratitude Works” puts it this way:
“…. research has shown that when people regularly cultivate gratitude, they experience a multitude of psychological, physical, interpersonal, and spiritual benefits. Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait—more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion. Grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and gratitude as a discipline protects us from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness. People who experience gratitude can cope more effectively with every day stress, show increased resilience in the face of trauma induced stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health.
…Experiencing gratitude leads to increased feelings of connectedness, improved relationships, and even altruism. We have also found that when people experience gratitude, they feel more loving, more forgiving, and closer to God. Dozens of research studies with diverse participant groups have also revealed that the practice of gratitude leads to the following:
· Increased feelings of energy, alertness, enthusiasm, and vigor
· Success in achieving personal goals
· Better coping with stress
· A sense of closure in traumatic memories
· Bolstered feelings of self-worth and confidence
· Solidified and secure social relationships
· Generosity and helpfulness “