Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, conducted an astonishing experiment to his students. As Bronson’s and Merryman’s “Nurture Shock” goes to explain, Dr. Emmons asked college students to keep a gratitude diary for about 10 weeks.
In the diaries, the students had to write at least 5 things they were thankful for that had happened the previous week.
The results were absolutely astonishing – hence, why Dr. Emmons’s experiment was astonishing.
Those kids, who kept the diary, felt 25% happier, got sick much less during the experiment, even exercised more, and felt more optimistic about their life and future.
The test was repeated once more, this time with undergraduate students.
The results were similar.
In fact, the participants’ friends had noticed that their friends were more helpful and caring (during and after that experiment).
In other words, this experiment showed that gratitude triggers well-being and good behaviour (improved, at least).
One question popped out of all this – which one came first? Did gratitude really elicit well-being or was it just a by-product of well-being, of good-natured people?
Or, as Bronson and Merryman put it themselves, “certainly the two rise and fall together, but Emmons showed that gratitude could be enhanced, independently, and greater well-being would result”.
This made me think of an important thing I miss doing, what with living in a very consumeristic, ego-centric, materialistic, multi-media, buzzing, noisy, tiring environment : to keep my own gratitude diary and remember the nice things that happen to me the week before.
In fact, keeping such a diary makes me realise that it’s even a privilege for me to actually be able to do it.
Because, what about the people of Syria?
Or, what about the impoverished, the hungry, the abandoned?
Can they keep a gratitude diary?
That they’re still alive?
I’m actually grateful to be able to make my own diary.
Because there’s plenty to be grateful for.
I don’t say it in a liturgical or belittling way.
It’s just a self-psychological exercise for our Ego.
It’s like stretching well before you do the 5-mile run.
You’ll perform better, after the initial stretches and warm-up.
And that’s why those students ‘performed’ better, after they kept the gratitude diaries.
Again, one for [us] the parents and not for [my] kids.
It’ll be hard for me to keep a diary for 10 weeks, honestly. What with the rest of my to-do lists.
But here’s my first attempt and hope you would try it out, too.
Five things I’m grateful for from last week:
1. my mom’s medical results are negative, which is the most positive thing that I’m so grateful for!!!
2. my husband and I had a wonderful weekend in London
3. the directors of two schools accepted my request to do 6 more focus groups (which are happening this week – I already have gathered amazing observations and I’ll share some of them here)
4. a dear friend called up to invite us for her husband’s birthday (which was a perfect dinner party last night!)
5. I had two more followers that joined my blog last week which encourages me to continue writing
I already feel more positive.
I’ll see how it goes after week 10.
If I do it, I’ll certainly teach my kids that one at some point.
What are you grateful for from your last week?