Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

LA-CAMFT Member Article

10/31/2019 5:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)
Amy McManus

Amy McManus,

Why Gratitude Is Better Than Prozac
5 Surprising Ways Gratitude Can Help Your
Clients (and You!) This Holiday Season

As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us begin to contemplate the things for which we are grateful. Many families have traditions of sharing their thoughts at the table, and none of us wants to be caught short. But what are the benefits of having “An Attitude of Gratitude” all year long?

What Does It Mean to Have an Attitude of Gratitude?

An attitude of gratitude is all about focus—you make gratitude a priority in your emotional life. You make a point of noticing what is good in your life, and you take the time to acknowledge and appreciate those things.

For years now, gratitude has been a buzzword in the therapy community, the self-help community, and popular culture alike. We have read about how gratitude positively affects your well-beingyour hopefulness and self-esteem—and your personality—lowering your aggression levels and raising your empathy. Gratitude may even have a positive impact on your health.

These are all wonderful results of something so simple as practicing a little gratitude, but gratitude has even more benefits than you might imagine.

Here Are Some of The Surprising Benefits of Having “An Attitude of Gratitude”:

1. Gratitude Can Help You Sleep Better

This surprises most people, but the research shows it’s true. People who were more grateful slept better and longer, had less trouble falling asleep, and functioned better in the daytime. In America it is estimated that 60 million people suffer from insomnia, and certainly many more could benefit from better quality of sleep, or even just falling asleep more easily. Most people need some extra help getting enough sleep over the holidays.

2. Gratitude Can Make You Popular

According to a joint study at University of New South Wales, Australia, and Gonzaga University in Washington State, expressing gratitude can win you friends. This research showed that when people expressed gratitude, the recipients of the gratitude viewed them as warmer, and were more likely to want to see them again. This was the result of just one sentence: “Thank you SO much for all the time and effort you put into doing that for me.” Gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated, or creative, it just has to be expressed.

As William James, one of the fathers of modern psychology, said in 1890, “ . . . the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

3. Gratitude Can Make You A Better Boss

Researchers from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania (home of Positive Psychology!) found that when a manager told workers she was grateful for their efforts, they were 50% more productive. I would challenge you to find any other method that could produce these results!

4. Gratitude Can Make You Happier in Your Marriage

If you show gratitude for your partner in your intimate relationship, your partner will feel warmer toward you (see point number 2) and you will grow closer as a couple. But here’s the kicker—if you show gratitude for your partner, you will be happier in your relationship and feel more satisfied with your partner. This is a clear win-win!

5. Gratitude Can Help You Get Through the Holidays Smoothly

Gratitude has been shown to lower rates of PTSD and to foster resilience.

Gratitude can also help us with the kind of normal family drama that comes with the holiday season as regularly as the turkey. There’s that Thanksgiving dinner with Aunt Sue, the gossip, and Uncle Bob, the groper. And what about trying to carry on some kind of reasonable conversation while the kids all run around on a manic sugar high? It’s enough to make you want to pound down the eggnog!

Practicing gratitude over the holiday season can help you be resilient throughout the mundane, but annoying, events that make up your Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations. Start a gratitude practice now so that you are ready when you need to be!

How Do I Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude?

Once a Day: Gratitude Reflection.
At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what you are grateful for. You don’t need to make a list; the important thing is to really let yourself be flooded with the feeling of gratitude.

Once a Week: Thank someone.
Take the time to write a little note to someone—it can be an email or a private message on Facebook or Instagram. Make sure the only purpose of this message is to say, “thank you.”

Once a Month: Have a Gratitude Round-Robin.
Recruit your family! Have everyone go around the dinner table and talk about the things for which they are grateful. Who knows, maybe this Thanksgiving tradition will catch on and become a regular event at your house!

I have a client who tried this when she went back home for the holidays. The whole family teased her and made fun of the idea. Then, one by one, each family member came to her in private to say how much they had actually enjoyed it, and that they hoped the tradition would continue!

Holidays are a great time to encourage your clients to start a gratitude practice—and hopefully one of the things they will be grateful for is you!

Amy McManus, LMFT, helps anxious young adults build healthy new relationships with themselves and others after a breakup. Amy’s blog, “Life Hacks,” offers practical tips for thriving in today’s crazy plugged-in world. Learn more about Amy from her website www.thrivetherapyla.com.

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