But what if there was a way to clear the bullshit and know exactly what change you’re going to make?
When I first moved to NYC, I was prompted by a whole barrage of questions like, what do I want to in NYC? As excited as I was, with all these questions I became more confused, because as it turns out, whenever we make a change, we are entering into the unknown, which naturally prompts a lot of questions and raises a lot of our insecurities.
Now that we understand the importance of beginning with the end in mind, given we’re all here trying to improve ourselves, let’s put this into a “participate in your own becoming” context.
Although we only applied it to once example here, we can really apply the “beginning with the end in mind” concept to any situation. Sure, having more money can be pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaptation we quickly get used to it and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first. While in a grateful mood, we will feel gratitude more frequently, when we do feel gratitude it will be more intense and held for longer, and we will feel gratitude for more things at the same time. After repeated exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus, we tend to experience less of the emotion. Hedonic adaptation gives unparalleled resiliency and keeps us motivated to achieve ever greater things. The pursuit of wealth and power has been shown in dozens of studies to be a highly inefficient method of increasing well-being and happiness. Applying that same level of energy towards strengthening one’s relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on much more reliably creates positive, transformative change. Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.
Americans are inundated with materialistic role models every day: from advertisements which highlight materialistic themes, to celebrity culture which glorifies the rich and frivolous, to business culture in which we are told our dreams should be to be rich and powerful. Those who are insecure, that is, those that have not had their basic psychological needs met (e.g.
Gratitude has caused me to focus less on things that don’t matter, like making money, and more on the things that do, like my family and this blog.
I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities. Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude. This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on their acts of benevolence). Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you.
Gratitude has been shown in multiple studies to make people kinder and more friendly, and that because of that, grateful people have more social capital. Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. If it’s thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way. In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep.
Gratitude can’t cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning. Gratitude encourages pro-health behavior like exercising and paying attention to health risks. Gratitude and vitality are strongly correlated – the grateful are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor.
Do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude, does gratitude lead to increased energy, or is something else going on? People with high levels of vitality tend to have some of the same traits that highly grateful people do, like high levels of optimism and life satisfaction. In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.a2 No other study has yet to replicate these results. According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the fact to have been caused by the kindness of others.  Gratitude doesn’t just make us happier, it is happiness in and of itself! The personality trait of envy has a correlation of -.39 with the personality trait of gratitude. This is likely because an attitude of envy and an attitude of gratitude are largely incompatible. Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique. Gratitude helps us perceive kindness, which we have a natural tendency to want to reciprocate.
Gratitude makes us happier and more energetic, both of which are highly linked to pro-social behavior.
Scientists have put numbers to our intuition and experience, creating an appreciation to naggy ratio. Building regular practices of gratitude into your marriage is an easy but effective way of raising your positivity ratio. Does the positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of a marriage, or does it simply reflect underlying happiness or conflict?
Timely, sincere, specific, behavior focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Because of our culture, expressions of gratitude are often difficult to give – cultivating an attitude of gratitude will help. I’ve seen firsthand the powerful difference between interacting with subordinates more with praise, and interacting with some more with criticism. Those who are more grateful are more likely to help others, and to pay it forward, that is, to take on mentoring relationships.
The first level is simple – those who are grateful are more social and also more likely to ask for help. In one study, participants were asked to write down those goals which they wished to accomplish over the next two months. Decision making is really tiring – so tiring that we automate to our subconscious much of the reasoning that goes behind making a decision.
In one study, doctors were given a list of ailments from a hypothetical patient and also given a misleading piece of information—that the patient had been diagnosed at another hospital as having lupus. Those who are insecure have difficulty focusing because many of their mental resources are tied up with their worries.
As gratitude has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce insecurity, this means that it can help us focus and improve our productivity.

Gratitude is no cure-all, but it is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness. Positive memories among grateful persons#, Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social 23, pp.
The research for this post took an extremely long time (~25-30 hours), but because I’m such a nerd, that was fun and just replaced my usual reading time. The html, css, javascript, and creating the images took 5-6 hours, but once again is fun, so no problem.
Writing the eBook companion took about 5-7 hours, and writing the actual post took ~6-10 hours, and was the most difficult part. Amit, I don’t spend that much time blogging, but I definitely do with music, hilarious to see you document it all here.
And I am grateful that this post was so jam packed with ideas and things to be grateful about.
Did you leave the habit behind in the past because you weren’t seeing immediate benefits?
Amit, the main reason I quit writing my gratitudes is that I’m easily distracted and very forgetful. You would be derailing your life voluntarily out of fear that it might become ruined by Chance. It’s True That People Can Move On, But You Can Never Change The Fact That Only Amnesia And Death Can Erase A Memories.
What if you could start achieving those dreams while others continue wandering around, not sure of what they want to do? Just by tweaking the way we think, we can know the change we want to make and get right to it.
Aptly thought of as the city where dreams come true, I couldn’t help but think of all the different possibilities for learning, traveling, personal growth etc. Herein lies the biggest problem most people (including myself) face when making a change, we don’t know how to begin. In order to successfully make positive change, the first step we must take isn’t answering the first question, but instead identifying the right question to ask. Given so many different situations, it seems logical that there might be different questions for each situation. When we choose to participate in our own becoming it’s because we believe we have not yet reached our full potential, and want to become the best we can be. This can be achieved by defining the essence of this “end.” In the previous article, we established the essence of who we are as what we know and what we do, therefore by the same logic, the essence of who we want to be is what we want to know and what we want to do. Whether you are creating a blog, running a business, or trying to make an everyday change, by applying this concept to your situation you can rid yourself of all the non-essential tasks and truly focus on what matters.
With so many distractions in this world, starting with the end in mind with daily reminders and consistent action is the best way to ensure you see your goals through to the end. The actual gratitude produced during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful mood.
It also kills our marriages – we get use to our amazing spouse (or kids, or job, or house, or car, or game). After three months of practice, I now have the ability to self-generate slight feelings of gratitude and happiness on command. Sign up for The Gratitude Hack, the course I created with the sole focus of helping you live a happier, more grateful life. If we perceive our current life to have more good, we will also believe our future life to have more good. Gratitude helps by reducing our tendency to compare ourselves to those with a higher social status. So while gratitude won’t make you lazy, over your lifetime you may end up earning less money.
I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness. This means that grateful people are actually more likely to receive help from others for no reason other than that they are liked and appreciated. For example, a person with low self-esteem may view an act of kindness with a skeptical eye, thinking that the benefactor is trying to get something from them. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind.
A few years may not sound like much, but I know when I’m about to die I’d like to have a few more years! It could be because other gratitude studies testing this effect have been much shorter – in the range of one to three weeks, or it could be because this result was a fluke. Gratitude feels good, and if the benefits on this page are any indication – gratitude will make you stronger, healthier, and more successful.
There are dozens of ways our memories get changed over time – we remember things as being worse than they actually were, as being longer or shorter, people as being kinder or crueler, as being more or less interesting, and so on. Here are two great books on the subject: Thinking, Fast and Slow (written by the founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman), and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness.
Just like it is impossible to feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, gratitude is the act of perceiving benevolence, while envy and jealousy is the act of perceiving inadequacy.
I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn’t relax. Without the feeling of gratitude, we may not recognize when someone is helping us (the same way anger lets us know when someone is trying to harm us). More formally called the Losada ratio, it divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement and appreciation) made during a typical interaction by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism).
Criticism comes all too easily to most, while the ability to feel gratitude and express praise is often lacking.
Those I’ve given more praise are more enthusiastic about working with me, express more creativity, and are so much more fun to work with. Two longitudinal studies showed that those with higher levels of gratitude actually developed more social capital than those with lower levels. But I’m guessing you care more about getting help from mentors and benefactors than being a mentor yourself. But it goes one step further – we all ask for help at one time, one of the key differences between one-off help and establishing a mentoring relationship is gratitude.

Gratitude – when their wisdom, experience, and time are well appreciated, mentors will find enjoyment from the process, continuing to help you for weeks, months, or years.
Those who were instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported more progress on achieving their goals at the end of the study. Even for the most basic of decisions, like where to go eat, there are dozens of variables to consider: how much time and money do I want to spend, what cuisine would I like today, am I willing to travel far, what should I get once I get there, and so on. Those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude find tokens of appreciation every day, on their own.
On the other hand, those who are highly confident are able to be more productive, because they can direct more of their focus towards their work.
This number has been floating around the internet, but I was actually unable to find the original source.
Prediction of All-Cause Mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale Scores: Study of a College Sample During a 40-Year Follow-up Period. I too agree that gratitude reduces stress, but I hadn’t thought of this particular reason why. I’ll admit, I skimmed a little bit but you made it great for me to dive as deep as I wanted in different sections. I shouldn’t be too lazy to write an article for a website that can drive tons of traffic to my site. I ask because I’m in the process of putting together some motivational information on how to make the habit stick.
It might seem like an easy question at first, but let’s face it; it’s pretty hard to know how you’re going to make that change. Kinda makes you want to just forget about this whole participating in your own becoming, huh?
Could you imagine the sheer joy of doing what you know you are meant to do, and have people congratulating you for doing such an awesome job of it?
Yet two months in, as much as I’ve enjoyed living in NYC, somehow I’m feeling slightly unsatisfied. With so many questions bouncing around in my head, I kept putting off answering them because I knew answering them would require a lot of work. When we focus on answering the right question rather than trying to answer all the random questions, then we can truly start to solve the problems we are facing, and achieve what we want to and start making permanent change. With more time and practice, I expect the intensity and duration of the generated feelings to increase.
Click below to go to the specific category or benefit that interests you, or just continue scrolling. Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are biologically more likely to focus on the good (gratitude) than on the bad (personal disappointment, anxiety, etc…). Both are prerequisites for feeling gratitude – someone who feels weak connections with others, and who believes in the illusion of self-sufficiency is unlikely to feel gratitude. I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others. A grateful person would take the kindness at face value, believing themselves to be a person worthy of receiving no-strings-attached kindness. With positive psychology research on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years. I’ll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard! A good rule of thumb is three or four positives for each negative means you’re doing well. If you deliberated on each of these decisions one at a time, your mind would be overwhelmed. Those who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis of lupus; those who did receive the gratitude were energized to expend more energy and to pay their gratitude forward onto their patient.
Optimism, coping, psychological distress, and high-risk sexual behavior among men at risk for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Please write an article for ProBlogger soon about how to make your blog posts look unlike anything else out there and be super interactive.
I know I felt happier when I kept a gratitude journal, yet somehow mine is still sitting in the trunk of my car. There are so many things to do, and so many different pieces of conflicting advice out there for making changes, which makes my head spin just thinking about them. Even though I’ve managed to do quite a few things including traveling to new places like Philadelphia and Vermont, gaining 7-8 lbs of muscle and achieving some of my goals, I couldn’t help but feel like I should be doing more.
In the next article, we’ll be discussing how to achieve the essence of your end, so prove that you know your own ends to yourself by writing it down and leaving a comment below! This list of benefits was compiled by aggregating the results of more than 40 research studies on gratitude.
Those who have been disabled have a remarkable ability to rebound – initially they may feel terrible, but after months or years they are on average just as happy as everyone else. It is a psychological imperative to fight hedonic adaptation if we want to maximize happiness. A grateful emotion is triggered when we perceive an act of benevolence directed towards us.  Those who are dispositionally ungrateful are therefore less likely to perceive acts of benevolence, even if they are surrounded by a loving environment.
It is good to know there’s something simple I can do for only five minutes each day, that will help me in those areas.
Flipped around, those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude are more likely to perceive an environment of benevolence, which in turn causes their brains to assume they are in an environment full of social support, which in turn kills insecurity and materialism. Beginning with the end in mind is essential because like a driver who doesn’t know his end destination, unless you know yours, you’ll never get there. My issue was even though I had goals; I did not identify what my end objective, so I felt like I had no purpose.
Therefore, no matter what I did, it would have been very difficult to feel like I accomplished anything of note. Instead of haphazardly working on a few things without an end in mind, I should have first established only one or two “ends” and worked hard to achieve those, which would have then given me a sense of accomplishment.

Enjoy your life journey
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