Message #187 GRATITUDE

Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Bob Emmons, Ph.D at UC Davis.

Dr. Emmons is the leading authority on Gratitude and the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is also the author of THANKS!: How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

In his book, Emmons talks about Gratitude and how it can be applied in one’s life. My favorite part of the book is when he lists 10 ways to practice Gratitude. Here is a sample…

Come to Your Senses-“Through our senses, we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human, of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive.” Use the exercise, “Breath of Thanks” (Dr. Frederic Luskin ‘Forgive For Good’) to become more grateful…

1. Two or three times every day when you are not fully occupied, slow down and bring your attention to your breathing.
2. Notice how your breath flows in and out without your having to do anything…continue breathing this way.
3. For each of the next five to eight exhalations, say the words “thank you” silently to remind yourself of the gift of your breath and how lucky you are to be alive. He suggests practicing this at least three times per week.

When I spoke with Dr. Emmons about Gratitude and whether it could be applied to sports, we came to the conclusion that, yes, gratitude can certainly help athletes produce “calm energy,” make less errors, reduce anxiety, pressure and nervousness. It helps them perform at a higher level.

The breathing exercise above can be used at the beginning of a tennis match when you may be a bit nervous. It can also be used before a big point or closing out a match. Just focus on your breathing and cultivate Gratitude for being able to play this wonderful game and opportunity to learn skills that can help you in all areas of life. The beauty of this is technique is, that when you focus on your breathing and Gratitude, you won’t think about being nervous, what people will think if you lose or any other negative thoughts that may affect your performance.

Other ways Dr. Emmons recommends practicing Gratitude are…

Use Visual Reminders– post quotes around the house (I have quotes below my bathroom mirror so I can read them first thing in the morning and last thing at night), have an accountability partner…when we spend time with “ungrateful” people we tend to take on those characteristics.

Watch Your Language– use words like gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, abundance instead of words like deprivation, deservingness, regrets, lack, need, scarcity, loss.

Go Through the Motions– take the action and your feelings will follow. Smile for one minute and that will tell your body that everything is OK and you will begin to feel better.

Think Outside the Box– be grateful for even the people and things that do you harm. Emmons says that this is an advanced form of gratitude. “Gratitude is incomplete until it is manifested in outward action.”

I feel that Gratitude is one of the, if not THE most important aspects of life. It helps slow down life, helps us perform better, and makes us healthier, happier and live longer.

Pick up Dr. Emmons’ book today, you’ll be GRATEFUL you did.

Thank you, Dr. Emmons and…

Thanks for reading.

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