The thing we come back to time and again with Further is that life satisfaction is not in any particular achievement, but in the drive to keep going forward. In other words, happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.
And yet, we’ve got to enjoy the journey itself. Appreciating where you’re at today in no way diminishes going further and taking it to the next level.
That’s why gratitude is the other part of the happiness equation. Author and researcher Dr. Robert Emmons asserts that being thankful for what we have is what gives life meaning.
Emmons, a University of California, Davis professor, performed eight years of intensive research on the practice of gratitude, and has written two best-selling books on the topic. That research, as supplemented and confirmed by multiple other studies, shows that being grateful has an incredibly profound impact on your life.
Here are just five of the vital benefits that come from embracing gratitude in your daily life:
As we’ve explored in the past, getting more and better sleep is the most pleasurable way to improve your life. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being shows that the simple act of expressing gratitude before bedtime helps you sleep better.
A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences shows that grateful people tend to report feeling healthier than most. More importantly, those who place an emphasis on gratitude take better care of themselves. Being thankful may the be workout motivation you need.
The research performed by Dr. Emmons reveals that gratitude makes your head a better place to live. People who methodically practice gratitude are happier, less anxious, and better able to avoid depression. Other studies show that gratitude reduces social comparisons and increases self-esteem.
A 2012 study by the University of Kentucky found that grateful people are less likely to retaliate against other people who are not so nice, or get defensive in the face of negative feedback. Instead, they demonstrate a greater level of empathy and compassion than those who ranked lower on the gratitude scale.
Strengthens Your Mind
One of the more interesting findings is that gratitude powers mental strength. In studies performed on both Vietnam vets and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, higher levels of gratitude resulted in less trauma and greater resilience in the face of horrific circumstances. Even your worst days aren’t that bad, right?
How to practice gratitude? One simple way is to keep a gratitude journal. Simply jot down what you are thankful for just before you go to bed. A way to accelerate the impact is to share your gratitude with others. So, if you regularly use social media, you could close the day by posting about what you’re thankful for that day. You’ll feel great, and so will those who follow you.
- Gratitude Works: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity
- 10 Ways to Become More Grateful
- 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude
- The Science Behind Gratitude (and How It Can Change Your Life)
I started this simple practice a month or so ago, and although it may seem a little odd, it works. As soon as I get in bed, I express thanks that my family is healthy, safe, and fed. Next, I say thanks that there’s a roof over my head, and my bed is warm and comfortable.
I usually fall asleep minutes later. Boiling things down to the true essentials makes all the other good stuff a bonus, and all the bad stuff superfluous. Try it.
Join the Strong for Summer 5 Day Workout Challenge
My friend Krista Striker produces my favorite fitness website, 12 Minute Athlete. She’s just announced a workout challenge that may be the perfect thing for you if you’re looking to get in shape over the summer.
“Each day, we’ll be focusing on one particular exercise to get you fitter and stronger, then do a HIIT workout for that day that incorporates that exercise. I’ll also tell you about any beginner or advanced variations of the exercise that you need to know about.”
The Challenge officially begins next Monday, May 18th. Get all the details here.
Veg Out in the Office for Greater Productivity
Here’s some workplace productivity advice that’s easy to implement and will brighten up your workspace. A study out of the University of Queensland in Australia has concluded that an office ornamented with plantlife can actually increase employee productivity by 15 percent.
“A green office communicates to employees that their employer cares about them and their welfare,” said the study’s co-author, Alex Haslam, a psychology professor. “Office landscaping helps the workplace become a more enjoyable, comfortable and profitable place to be.”
Interesting Psychological Studies for Living Your Best Life
Here’s a whole slew of recent studies that will help you lead a wiser life. Here are a few nuggets:
- New research suggests that it’s the highs and lows of social relationships that provide the highest highs and lowest lows when we reflect on our lives. It’s our relationships with others, good and bad, that stick with us.
- A recent study suggests that shedding tears of joy, seemingly an oxymoron, helps people cope with overwhelming emotions.
- Acetaminophen not only kills pain, it kills positive emotions, a recent study has found.
- Chemical compounds in our sweat that can be detected by others reveal whether we’re happy or not.
I’m grateful for everyone who attended our live event in Denver last Thursday and Friday. Also super thankful that I got to hang out with a personal hero of mine, Henry Rollins, over the weekend. Perhaps most of all, I’m happy that I managed to get this issue of Further out without missing a week. It’s been pretty crazy!
Finally, I’d be exceptionally grateful if you could share Further with your friends or colleagues:
That’s it for this week. Check out the archives here.