Science tells us that an “attitude of gratitude” is a good health choice. Being more grateful more often makes us happier and more optimistic. But gratitude also adds to the bottom line – in very real ways. And the best news about gratitude is that it requires little time and no money. Seems like we hear about having an “attitude of gratitude” everywhere we go these days.  Is there anything to it you think?

Psychologists Robert Emmons of U.C. Davis and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami have found that practicing gratitude can actually improve our emotional and physical well-being.

In particular, participants in their 2003 study, who were asked to spend 10 minutes each day thinking about what they were grateful for, experienced greater levels of optimism, positive mood, and feelings of belongingness over the period of the study than the control participants.  Here are five reasons gratitude improves your productivity and results:

Gratitude attracts what we want. The universal law of attraction says that we will attract into our life the things we think about and focus on. Since this is true, wouldn’t you want more of what you are thankful for? (I think I know the answer to that!) Remember that when you are consciously aware of your blessings, and are grateful for them, you are focusing more clearly on what you do want in your life – and are attracting more of those things into your life.

Gratitude improves relationships. We learn the importance of saying “thank you” as little children. We are taught that habit because it is “good manners.” This childhood lesson is extremely powerful. Think about those people that you know who are most appreciative of you – and let you know it. How do you feel about them? Does their appreciation positively impact your relationship with them? Of course it does! Be grateful for people, their contributions, their talents and their actions – and make sure you let them know how you feel.

Gratitude reduces negativity. It is hard to be negative about your situation when you are thinking about things for which you are grateful. One of the fastest ways to improve your mood or outlook is to count your blessings.

Gratitude improves problem solving skills. Too often we look at problem solving with a very jaded view. “Something is wrong. We have barriers in our way. Then, we have to put in effort to fix it.” Conversely, when we think about what we are grateful for we open our minds up to new possibilities and connections. We also enter a problem solving situation with a perspective of improvement and opportunity rather than challenge or issue. I will say though, that this has to be tempered with good practice. It’s all well and good to be grateful and positive, but if you don’t plan a little, including backing up, disaster proofing, following processes, due diligence and more, then you’re much more likely to remain in the negative cycle, as things will inevitably go wrong!

Gratitude helps us learn. Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Behind every problem lies an opportunity. Being grateful for our situation – even if we don’t like everything about it – allows us to be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new.

For some reason most of us seem gravitate toward the negative. The weather, our finances, jobs, etc. never seem to be how or what we want them to be. Let’s become aware of how often we grumble about this or that, and instead practice a grateful attitude. How might we affect our day if before we even get out of bed we spend a few minutes thinking about all the things we have to be grateful for.  Even if you don’t FEEL like there is much of anything, start anyway. You may only begin with one or two things, but I believe before long you will find more.  Gratitude is a choice and just as negativity is a bad habit, gratitude is a good one.

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