Being Grateful Will Make You Happier

Posted on March 10, 2017

Photo: flickr

In several articles written for the New York Times, David Brooks opined that expectations are extremely powerful in the ways they can influence our moods and emotions. For example, if we choose to go to an upper-class restaurant, our expectations of the cuisine, service and perhaps even the decoration of the eating area and the type of cutlery used can be pretty high. This raise in standards causes us to be more particular about the state of things and hence react negatively to anything that is below our expectations. Such displeasure seems almost too easy to feel, because it is. Studies have shown that our expectations correlate to our emotions. If our expectations are lower, we are more likely to feel satisfied.

Perhaps what is even more surprising is that this disposition for gratitude is a conscious choice that we can make. If we choose to have a grateful disposition, we are more likely to feel positive emotions of happiness and satisfaction. Think about it: concentrating on the silver linings and the bright side of things is likely to make us feel better than harping on the tiniest annoyances and grievances. In fact, the positive effects of choosing to be grateful are many. Not only will we be happier, but so will others around us. The physiological benefits of practising gratitude have been proven by a three-year study conducted by researchers from the University of California: to name a few, people who actively try to be grateful have better psychological health and mental strength, better sleep and stronger immune systems. They empathise better, and also experience fewer negative feelings such as loneliness and isolation.

However, this does not mean that people should swing to the other end of the spectrum and disregard expectations altogether. Although there is an inverse relationship between gratitude and expectations: that is, the greater one’s expectations are, the less grateful one will feel, expectations ultimately still undermine gratitude. Hence, it is important to keep one’s gratitude higher than one’s expectations, or to lower one’s expectations to realistic levels.

Category(s):Empathy, Happiness

Source material from Psychology Today

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