Being thankful for happiness

Being thankful for happiness

Being thankful brings happiness

Author argues gratitude is key to a quality life

Silvio Dobri, The Edmonton Journal

Mom was right! If you say thank you, for even the smallest gift or slightest show of kindness, you’ll feel happy.

Gratitude, says Robert A. Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is a crucial element of happiness. In his most recent book, Thanks! (Houghton Mifflin, $30.95), Emmons uses the first major study on gratitude to prove mom’s point. In acknowledging and fostering this much-ignored expression of thankfulness, he illustrates how people have benefited — even improved their health.

As one of the leading scholars of the the positive psychology movement, he admits gratitude — wanting what we have, he calls it — may be difficult to express. He prescribes you begin by acknowledging that life is good and chock-full of events and elements that make daily existence a wonder, despite those bad-hair days.

Second, recognize that the source of life’s goodness is more than just you. That source may be your nurturing mom, a friend, partner, spouse, child, colleague at work or play, a caregiver or God — or any combination of these.

Gratitude is always other-directed, notes Emmons. You can be pleased or angry with yourself and feel guilty about doing something wrong, but you can never be grateful to or for yourself.

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