Gratefulness Improves Your Life

Lifetree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.

November 2009

Gratefulness Improves Your Life

In This Issue:

1.  Welcome
2.  The Benefits of Being Grateful
3.  Gratefulness and Today's Challenges
4.  Using Gratefulness to Improve Your Life
5.  Announcements

1. Welcome

I have changed the format and focus of my newsletter, Successful Relating, to
Life Tree News, and have given it a new format.  Let me know how you like it!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It is a day when Americans pause and
give thanks for the many blessings in their lives. When less than half the
early Pilgrims survived the first winter; they were grateful to be alive. Today,
as we face our challenges to freedom we can continue to honor the Pilgrims by
looking at the power gratefulness in our lives. This is the focus of this

2. The Benefits of Being Grateful

Religion and wise sages have long embraced gratefulness as an critical component of health and well being. More recently research has bolstered this position.  Here are a few highlights from research by Emmons and McCullough (2004). Overall, they find that most people are grateful.

    * Grateful people are happier.  They report higher levels of wellbeing,
      life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, and lower levels of depression and
      stress.  Gratefulness enhances pleasant feelings  more than it diminishes
      unpleasant ones. Even so, grateful people do not ignore the negative
      aspects of their lives.
    * Grateful people are more caring. They are more likely to be empathetic and
      to take the perspective of others. They are seen as more generous and more
      helpful by people in their social networks.
    * Grateful people are more spiritual.  They are more likely to acknowledge a
      belief in the interconnections of all life. Those who regularly attend
      religious services and engage in religious practices are more likely to be
      grateful. Gratitude does not require a religious faith, but faith enhances
      the ability to be grateful.
    * Grateful individuals are less materialistic. They place less importance on
      material goods, are less likely to judge their own and others success in
      terms of possessions accumulated, and are more likely to share their
      possessions with others that relative to less grateful persons.

 3. Gratefulness and Today's Challenges

While some have seen the financial crisis as a downfall, it also is blessing in
disguise. It has served as a stimulus for bonding and building our relationships.
It has helped us to discover that, once basic needs are met, happiness has little
to do with money, stuff, or the stockmarket. Economist, David Korten, sees this
as a shift from Phantom wealth, i.e. money, to the Real wealth, which is beyond
price ---love, happy children, work that provides a sense of contribution,
caring communities, and a healthy natural environment.

I am deeply gratified to see the revival of activity at the grass roots. It starts
by acknowledging what we have, and by creating new connections and building our relationships among and between each other. As we get to know our neighbors, we find gifts. As we begin to associate, these gifts become amplified and magnified. When we rely on our relationships with family, friends, and local
businesses, we can have the enduring support of a strong community, even when crises come and the role of the distant corporations fail. In a strong community, we experience gratification in finding solutions by serving each other, lessening the need for planetary resources and stuff to feel satisfied with our lives.

 4. Using Gratefulness to Improve Your Life

Try the following to make thankfulness your daily habit.  Notice how it helps you
to connect with life. Does it help you to feel stronger and happier?

    * Journal the daily moments that made you feel grateful, happy, and strong.
    * Notice how many times something bad served as a stimulus for a greater   good.  For example, "If I had not lost my job, I would have never acquired the
      skills for more fulfilling work."
    * Focus on what you have rather than what you do not have. For example, as
      you scan your home, look at your many belongings. You can create even
      more joy by redistributing the items you no longer use to charity.  
    * Think about the people you have known that have made you thankful. Write
      down what you appreciated about them and how they contributed to your life.
      They can be family, people in your neighborhood, or people you see on
      television, or even read about in books.  If possible, let them know what
      you appreciate.
    * Think of the people who have given you a challenge. Think of what you
      accomplished because of them.
    * Reflect on the animals and the places that have made you smile -- flowers,
      a woodland trail, a favorite restaurant.  Give thanks for all of these.
    * Now smile, pass it on, and give back as much as you can.   

5.  Announcements
Upcoming Teleseminar:  Women's Happiness: Transform Stress to Success
Monday November 30, 2009. 7:00 - 8:00 PM CST.  More and more women are awakening to their feminine power in evolving a better   world. Research shows this also resulted in stress.  Indeed, as women have moved  into positionsof more power and influence, there has been a corresponding decrease in women's happiness, as compared with men.

Come join us for a teleseminar to better understand the sources of the stress and to discussways to reduce it. We will look at women's happiness and stress by looking at the contributions from culture, gender differences, and a mind-body 
perspective. Join us by clicking on the link at the right. 

 Happy Thanksgiving,
 Dr. Alice

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