June 21, 2012 at 6:03 am, by Carl
How would you like to be more creative? How about deal with adversity better? Wish to have deeper and more enriching personal relationships? How about just better health? Well, the answer lies within you, not from some outer source. And we are in the perfect season for it.
The answer is thankfulness.
Now this isn’t just some comment about Thanksgiving, but about being more successful. Whether you are a student, active in business or perhaps in the non-profit field of service to others, you can improve the aspects of where you are currently simply by gaining a thankful heart.
Those with a spiritual foundation have long known this to be true; you can find encouragement to be thankful and grateful across all religious writings. Yet today, science is also discovering the power of gratitude. Back in 2008, two new books hit the shelves on this topic. In August, Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC-Davis published Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Then, to even more fanfare due to her career as a news reporter, most famously with Inside Edition, Deborah Norville released Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You.
For students, summer school can be the most stressful, especially if key assignments are now looming. For others, summer should bring relaxation, but for some, the stress of free time, how they look in a bathing suit and other issues loom. Thus rather than a thankful time, it is a painful time. At work, year-end deadlines and projects are into crunch time. What the “new science” of gratitude is reminding us of, is what the Bible already tried to teach us, that being grateful is the secret to unlocking your total potential.
From the small, simple thank you when you receive a paper back or have a door held open for you to the larger step of sending a thank you note or perhaps even sending a gift, these actions not only make us feel better, but actually reduce stress and allow us to approach life and other people with a stronger attitude. That reduction of stress and stronger, positive attitude are the forces that can propel you forward in your life journey of success.
Professor Alice Isen, the Cornell psychologist who researched what happens when people feel good, says that Thank You Power makes you stronger. “You are a stronger person and more resilient to negative forces,” she says. “People are more likely to do what they want to do when they are in positive affect.” She says it’s conceivable that people with self-esteem issues might become more assertive if they put Thank You Power to work
Robert Emmons, the University of California-Davis professor who coauthored that groundbreaking catalog of the benefits of daily gratitude, says that practicing what he’s studied has made a huge impact in his own life. “I came more from the side of the whining, complaining group. You know, the people who have a sense of entitlement or deservingness. I think gratitude has helped me shift my own frame of reference. It has really made a difference in my life.”
I hope that you truly are thankful. I hope you take some time to reflect on the blessings of your life. Here’s a short list to get you started: you currently are alive, you live in the United States, you have a computer, you have the financial resources to afford the Internet, and you have the mind capable of reading and processing this email. Now, you take time to add to that list.
And while you are at it, why not take the obvious next step and tell others that you are thankful for them. Start with your parents or siblings, even those that perhaps you have a strained relationship with (that could be a step towards reconciliation). Consider thanking your professors for their time and effort in your education. Thank your boss for your job, for the chance. Think of your friends, fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, members of your clubs, religious groups or neighbors. In essence, take the time this week to thank someone for their impact in your life.
In the end, this is a powerful step towards a more successful life. Isn’t that what we are all after, what we all hope for? Saying “thank you” is small, but powerful. Don’t miss it!