Eat, love, thank, and …save?
It is no secret anymore that the science of happiness has shown that keeping a journal of gratitude contributes to happiness. Studies on gratitude and happiness have shown that consistently expressing your gratitude gives you a stronger immune system, makes you sleep better, and whola, kinder and more compassionate. Those, I think, are some of the stuff that make up the essential butter of the croissant of personal happiness.
You are probably thinking “Oh sure, think of a few things to be grateful for everyday? That’s peanuts.” But as psychologists have observed, it is not as easy as it you think it is. It gets taken over by a lot of other things and pretty soon, gratitude is just a watermarked byte in your life.
But if you stick to it by finding ways to make it new all the time, it works and it works right away. In fact, I tried it just now as I write this and I felt weirdly and positively transformed. And I just thought about papaya, rellenong bangus and yellow roses.
I had papaya this morning served to me, skinned, chilled, sliced and ready to eat. From the tree to my bowl, it took a lot of hands, both hardworking or loving or both, to do that. Yesterday, I had rellenong bangus and even as a child I had been so amazed at how you could debone milkfish with its fine white bones intricately networked in its white flesh. So every time I have boneless bangus in whatever form, I bow to those patient bone removers spending most of their waking hours doing this. And lastly, the 50 yellow roses, fetched by good young friends, from a distance, counted and wrapped, to brighten up my already sparkling day.
Gratitude replays the good day that was and in that grateful packet of memory, I eat papaya, savor bangus and smell the roses all over again. What a wildly sumptuous way to enjoy what is no longer even there!
But wait, there’s more. Researchers have been looking at what else “gratitude” seems to do for us, aside from happiness. One of the things they found in an earlier study is that sadness, an emotion, can worsen your impatience in financial matters. They first thought that “hot” emotions like sadness make your more likely to surrender to short term rewards despite the promise of better rewards if you waited. Thus, the researchers thought that all emotions would muddle your decision-making in matters that obviously require objective thinking. But in a study, they found that “gratitude”, an emotion, made people more patient in making financial decisions. This surprised them and made them do more studies on the other nuances of gratitude and “making and saving money.”
In a study published last March, researchers have found that the more regular you express gratitude, the more you are likely to have self-control over financial decisions – choosing bigger, long-term rewards than short-range ones. This was significant because it shows how clearly an emotion – gratitude – could check another emotion – impulsiveness. There now seems to be a link to being grateful and gaining self-control. I still have not found a study on what could be happening to the brain connections but would be very interesting to see as this is a case where an emotion curbs another emotion to make a logical decision.
Being made aware of what you are or have and how you became or how you got some things, somehow tap into your brain muscles for self-control. Poetically, I think it is a perfect fit as you when you really take stock of what it took for you to be alive at any moment, the abundance of both intended effort and positive coincidences could be so overwhelming that they fully occupy that moment and thus, you wait for the better time to decide on things. From what we know so far in science, “self-control” takes brain muscle power which explains why to work in a disciplined manner can be exhausting. If gratitude helps eases the burden on the brain muscles by enabling self-control without the added fatigue, this is such a pleasant way to cultivate attention and focus.
I wonder how giving constant gratitude will also affect self-control in other things other than financial matters. How about in war or in many instances of conflict? Would it help in controlling what you say or do in terms of helping others? In other words, how would your habit of gratitude affect your empathy? And since empathy is what the world seems to be always running short of, how would a culturally embedded habit of gratitude change the landscape of conflict?
Knowing what studies have revealed so far about what gratitude does, we should give it time. And maybe this will help. Think of a block, tree, signage or whatever that you pass everyday on your way to or from school or work. Make that “block” your “gratitude block” so that when you pass it, it is your cue to think of the thing you are grateful for. Then, I guess just watch yourself expand and reap the rewards of being. – Rappler.com