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SPOTLIGHT: The power of gratitude
How appreciative expression uplifts work relationships and wellness
The old adage “count your blessings” is much more than a sweet sentiment. Following that advice can help relieve stress, elevate presence of mind, and even help prolong life.
Gratitude elevates, energizes, inspires, it transforms. People are moved, opened, and humbled through experiences and expressions of gratitude.
By taking stock of their blessings, people can experience a calming sense of gratitude for their physical abilities, for companionship, for possessions, for career satisfaction. Moreover, the act of conveying appreciation is rewarding not only for someone being thanked, but also for the person expressing gratitude.
Robert Emmons, a UC Davis professor of psychology, has distinguished himself as the world’s foremost expert on the psychological and physical effects of experiencing gratitude. He regards gratitude as foundational to humanity.
“Gratitude elevates, energizes, inspires, it transforms. People are moved, opened, and humbled through experiences and expressions of gratitude,” Emmons said. “Gratitude provides life with meaning, by encapsulating life itself as a gift.”
Conversely, in the absence of gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished.
“Gratitude takes us outside ourselves where we see ourselves as part of a larger, intricate network of sustaining relationships, relationships that are mutually reciprocal. Grateful people exercise more, get better sleep, report more energy and vitality,” said Emmons, whose ongoing research uses controlled experimental trials to assess the effects of gratitude on well-being. He notes one commonly observed cause-and-effect relationship.