Happiness books written for the popular read seem to fall into one of two general categories. They're either based on scientific evidence and give you research-tested techniques (such as Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World), OR, they give you advice and things to think about to help you "reframe" your thinking (such as The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living). While I can't say that one is better than the other, as they both have their attributes, I will say that I personally prefer the research-based books the best- like this one.
In this book, positive psychology researcher Robert Emmons, who is very well published I might add, will tell you all about the emotional disposition of gratitude- and how cultivating it in your life will not only make you happier, but just plain healthier all the way around!
So what exactly is gratitude anyway? While the defintion depends on who you ask, the book tells that it is helpful to think of it in terms of two stages: the acknowledgement of goodness, and the recognizing that the source of this goodness lies at least partially outside yourself. I never thought of it like that, but it makes all the sense in the world to me.
With that in hand, the book goes on to tell you exactly what gratitude has to do with happiness. As the book explains, there are three main things that determine your happiness: circumstances, genetics, and intentional activities. Cultivating gratitude fits into the happiness equation by being an intentional activity- one you can practice that has been shown to increase happiness levels. But does it REALLY work?
In a word, yes, and I can say this with certainty because the author himself has conducted randomized controlled trials that have proven this. (For those not in the know, the highest form of scientific proof that something actually works is the randomized controlled trial). And so, as you might have guessed, a good portion of the book is spent talking about his, as well as other's research, that will probably convince many, if not all readers, that cultivating gratitiude can not only make one happier, but healthier as well.
But while the book contains it's share of research, it very much leaves the reader with some practical tools by its end. Obstacles that get in the way of gratitude are discussed, as well as some very practical options to incorporate gratitude into your life, keeping a journal being just one example.
My final comment on this book is that if there were more like 'em, this world would truly be a better place. Here is a simple book that convincingly showed me that something as small and easy to do as being thankful, not only has the potential to change a person, but perhaps the rest of the world too. Thanks for a great book!
A great book! I can highly recommend this book - easily read and enjoyable causing you to think about your own attitude toward the simple joys of life. We could all do with a good dose of gratitude - read it, learn and pass it on to your kids! :)