Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 25, 2013

THE GOOD LIFE: Count your blessings

By Louise Gorenflo
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Numerous psychologists from around the world have conducted research that repeatedly points to the benefits of gratitude. The results of these studies indicate that daily gratitude exercises lead to higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Grateful peoples experience less depression and stress, are more likely to help others, exercise more regularly and make greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Gratitude should not be just be for getting what you want, but be an all-the-time experience, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. The discipline of gratitude reminds us how utterly dependent we are on others and Earth for everything that matters.

Learning how to become more grateful requires lifelong daily practice. The practices described below all have been shown to develop gratitude and its benefits.

•Keep a gratitude journal. A well-researched method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal.  This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful. You can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night.

•Count your blessings. If writing is not your thing, count your blessings inside your head. It helps to do it when you’re stuck or feeling low. It will help you keep a good perspective and feel better.

•Say “Thanks!” Every time you don't thank someone for some small kindness, you miss a moment of happiness. Make a point of expressing your thanks to everyone who does something for you that you appreciate. Something as simple as someone holding a door open for you. You will not only make their day, you’ll also feel good about yourself for taking time to acknowledge the other person.

•Send thank-you notes. It's an increasingly-ignored tradition that benefits the sender as much as the recipient.

•Say grace. Take a moment to say grace before meals, reflecting on the blessing of having delicious and healthful food to eat. It’s a simple but powerful reminder of at least one important blessing that often gets overlooked in the hubbub of everyday life. If you're not religious, simply express your gratitude in whatever manner suits you.

Once you start everyday looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experience of life.

May you find what I have reported interesting and something you can use in your life. I invite you to email me your reactions (