Mental Health: Get Healthier, Give Thanks (cont.)
Who, then, has a high level of life satisfaction, if not the very poor or the very rich? The middle class do, according to Diener's findings -- particularly those who have risen from poverty. Moreover, he reports that the people of Ireland, a country boasting a "count your blessings" culture, report high levels of life satisfaction. As for a group of multimillionaires from the Forbes 400 list? They weren't much happier than the average suburbanite.
Income level is by no means the only measure of satisfaction with one's lot in life. "There tends to be higher levels of optimism among people who have faced losses early in life, suggesting that adversity can promote personal growth over time," Aspinwall tells WebMD. But you don't have to wait for a tragedy to grow your feelings of gratitude. You can start today. Here's how:
Not convinced these simple gratitude-enhancing strategies can improve your overall health and well-being? "Try it out for yourself. What's the alternative? I think gratitude is the best approach to life," Emmons says.
Published Nov. 8, 2004.
SOURCES: Robert Emmons, PhD, psychology professor and researcher, University of California, Davis. Christopher Peterson, PhD, University of Michigan psychologist. Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, psychology professor, University of Utah. Edward Diener, PhD, psychology professor, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Sam Quick, PhD, human development & family relations specialist, University of Kentucky.
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