Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

– Charles Dickens (1837)

Another year has come and gone. Every year life brings prob­lems, challenges, and roadblocks. Overcoming these obstacles is much easier if you possess one thing in particular. I am talking about the feeling, emotion or at­titude of acknowledgment known as gratitude. Recent research shows conclusive evidence of its positive benefits.

A joint study was published by professors from UC Davis and the University of Miami. Participants of this trial were told to keep a journal for 10 weeks. One group was told to describe in their journal 5 things they were grateful for on a daily ba­sis. Another group wrote down their troubles and a third group was told to write down things that affected them but not attach a positive or negative value to them.

The gratitude group emerged from the study 25% happier than groups two and three. Research­ers also found they were in better health and averaged an hour and a half more exercise than the other groups each week. On a side note, appreciation proved to be conta­gious as the spouses of the first group, noticing the change in their mate, began counting their bless­ings as well.

Another study found clinically depressed people express 50% less gratitude than non-depressed individuals. In fact, researchers con­cluded that gratitude is one of the strongest human character traits linked to good mental health.

In general, people who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed and more satisfied with their lives and social relation­ships. Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies. This means they are less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance abuse. They sleep better; thinking less negative and more positive thoughts before going to sleep. If a pill was able to do all this, how many parents would mortgage their house to give it to their teenage son or daughter?!!!

NOTE: Gratitude IS NOT the same as indebtedness. The latter will give you the perception that you are under an obligation to make some form of repayment and will motivate you to avoid those you are indebted to. On the other hand, gratitude will cause you to seek out your benefactor and actually try to improve your relationship with them.

In conclusion, one of the smart­est persons in history, Albert Ein­stein, summed up gratitude this way:

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Choose to live your life in an ex­traordinary way instead of the ordi­nary. Begin each day with gratitude and 2020 will be the best year yet!