Today, Nicole from Treasure Tromp is stopping by to talk about a subject I LOVE – gratitude. Nicole just recently moved to South Africa, is working towards her PhD, and is an all-around sweetheart! She also has a great sense of humor which she often shares on her blog and I think you’ll like her as much as I do. Enough of my blabbering, see for yourself below! -Melyssa
My blog started as a way to document my attempts at finding life’s little treasures … and as a way to distract myself from my PhD program in psychology. Before I started my PhD, I received my MA in Positive Organizational Psychology (side note: my fiancé and I are both in the picture featured on that page but were not even dating at the time). A major critique of psychology is that most of the research focuses on negative aspects of human functioning, and how to ‘fix’ people. Positive psychology recognizes those aspects but argues that we can learn more about individuals and groups if we also research and explore the conditions in which people flourish and thrive. How can we benefit from positive aspects such as individual strengths, the concept of flow, love, and my personal favorite, gratitude?
Last Thanksgiving I wrote about how every time I take the VIA Character Strengths inventory my top character strength remains the same: gratitude. While my other top four usually rotate around (but typically include Ability to Love and be Loved, Appreciation for Beauty, Zest and Curiosity) the character strength of gratitude has consistently remained at the top. We all know that we should be grateful often, but the research supports this idea as well! Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson (2005) found that participants who kept a daily gratitude journal for one week experienced a major increase in their happiness and quality of life scores. In fact, this bump in happiness was sustained even after the experiment was over. Other ‘side effects’ of gratitude? Higher levels of optimism, more energy, better quality of sleep, progression towards personal goals, and more positive attitudes (check out all the research that links gratitude to well-being)! You can tap into these benefits by practicing gratitude! Here are my four favorite ways to practice gratitude:
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Get yourself a cute little notebook and write down 3-5 things that you’re grateful for at the end of each day. They can be small things (I’m grateful that there was no line at the grocery store when I was in a hurry), or bigger things (I’m grateful that my family is in good health). In December I wrote down three things that I was grateful for a week and compiled them into the following list:
2. Make a list of what you are grateful for. While a gratitude journal allows you to reflect on what you’re thankful each day, making a master gratitude list let’s you think about everything going on in your life. Items on my list include my health, love, education, holding hands, sushi, sunshine, my family, and vegetarian options on menus. You can see my full gratitude list here.
3. Create a wakeup wall. There is no research supporting this idea (that I know of) but I love it. I like to put pictures of loved one, inspiring quotes, and other things that I’m grateful for in a frame on the wall that faces my bed when I wake up. That means that the first thing that I see when I wake up in the morning (besides my fiancé) is a reminder of all the things I love and am thankful for in life!
4. Express your gratitude. Surprise a loved one and write them a letter of gratitude. Or invite them out to coffee, buy them a cup and express your gratitude then! I personally prefer writing letters (so I can perfect my thoughts) but either way, expressing your gratitude to another person makes both of you feel great!
A big thank you to Melyssa for letting me take over her blog today! I hope that you all find your way over to my blog where I love to pretend that I am a world traveler, hike and camp, obsess over hedgehogs, and make a mess in the kitchen. Latest adventure? Moving to South Africa for 6 months with my fiancé! Come stop by and say hello!