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Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier Hardcover – August 6, 2007

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fine, succinct contribution to the relatively new field of positive psychology (which seeks to promote emotional wellness, rather than treat disorder) focuses on what a French saying calls the memory of the heart. Emmons (The Psychology of Gratitude), a leader in the field and professor at UC-Davis, looks at gratitude from an interdisciplinary perspective, including literature, psychology, religion and anthropology. He demonstrates how it contributes to emotional equanimity and pleasure, richer personal relationships and greater health. Perhaps Emmons's most interesting chapter is on ingratitude, which Kant called the essence of vileness and which Emmons sees as resulting from the grudging resentment of one's own dependence on others. Gratitude is more... than a tool for self-improvement. Gratitude is a way of life Emmons says, and he ends by offering 10 ways to cultivate gratitude, including keeping a gratitude journal and learning prayers on gratitude. Emmons introduces an important topic through deftly synthesizing scientific and popular inspirational literature. (Aug. 6)
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"We can all be grateful to Robert Emmons for this pioneering work." --David G. Myers, Ph.D., author of The Pursuit of Happiness

“Robert Emmons is the world’s leading expert on the psychology of gratitude. . . This is a morally elevating book.” --Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis

"I am convinced Robert Emmons is right: increasing the national state of gratitude would change the world." --Jim Clifton, Chairman & CEO of The Gallup Organization

"Emmons presents clear and practical ways in which everyone can begin to immensely improve their quality of life." --Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy at USC as well as author of Renovation of the Heart

"Gratitude’s benefits should be enough to convince even the most cynical secularist that this emotion is essential for achieving happiness." -- Spirituality & Practice Magazine

"A serious, skillful exploration of a current arena of psychological research, by one of the leaders in that emerging field." --Steve Heilig The San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; annotated edition edition (August 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618620192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618620197
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Todd B. Kashdan VINE VOICE on August 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is hard to ignore the large number of books written over the past few years on the nature of happiness. In the past year, I had an opportunity to read over a dozen of these "positive psychology" books and glance through quite a few more. Most of them summarize the same set of research studies on what makes people happy, why it is difficult to attain and sustain happiness, who is most and least likely to find happiness, and how these positive experiences can be cultivated. This led me to read Robert Emmons' latest book with some degree of trepidation. I wondered if "Thanks!" would offer anything new to my growing fascination of these topics. Even though I already knew a great deal about Emmons' work and the study of gratitude, I found this book to be remarkably interesting and a reservoir of compelling insights and practical tips. Let me detail a few reasons why this book offers something new and why it belongs on people's bookshelves.

First, many "positive psychology" books are written by therapists, counselors, teachers, journalists, and other people who read and summarize the writings of scientists. Their books often lack the enthusiasm, creativity, and wisdom that can only be found by those devoting their lives to a topic. Robert Emmons is the world's leading authority on gratitude. His research is responsible for much of what we know about gratitude. It becomes readily apparent that Robert Emmons has spent years thinking about gratitude, studying gratitude, talking to people about gratitude, and trying to understand how gratitude fits into the "big picture" of achieving lasting happiness in a world fraught with moments of pain, stress, and adversity. His passion and wisdom are evident on nearly every page.
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey J. Froh on August 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In his latest book, "Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier," Dr. Robert Emmons shares his expertise about the personal and interpersonal benefits of gratitude. While gratitude has a long history among philosophers and theologians, it was not until the turn of the 21st century that psychology finally began to give gratitude its deserved empirical homage. The individual largely responsible for the scientific advancement of gratitude is Dr. Emmons. In its simplest terms, gratitude is a positive response to a benefit. But its related outcomes reach well beyond those associated with being polite. Indeed, pioneering research conducted and reviewed by Dr. Emmons shows that gratitude improves emotional and physical health, as well as bolsters relationships and communities. "Thanks!" ends by providing readers with 10 practical strategies for becoming more grateful. Some strategies include keeping a gratitude journal, learning prayers of gratitude, and using visual reminders. Following the advice of Dr. Emmons, my screensaver now reads: "Life is a Gift--Thanks!" Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is tough. It is, according to Dr. Emmons, a "chosen attitude." We must be willing to recognize and acknowledge that we are the recipients of an unearned benefit. If we roll up our sleeves and commit ourselves to becoming grateful, we will see that with gratitude comes abundance. "Thanks!" is a highly readable, colorful, and downright fun book. Personal anecdotes and gratitude essays written by research participants bring to life Dr. Emmon's research program demonstrating the strong and enduring benefits of gratitude. So with patience and persistence, happiness, health, and stronger relationships await you. It just comes down to one simple, yet highly complex word--thanks!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Corrie Haffly on September 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Emmons is a professor of psychology at UC Davis whom I've had the pleasure of meeting and listening to and is known as the "world's leading authority on gratitude." His new book, subtitled How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, is one that I've been looking forward to reading as I've heard him lecture about his research in the area of gratitude and its effect on people's lives. It was from his talk that I was inspired to start keeping a "gratitude journal" -- a simple daily listing (3-5 things) of things that I am truly grateful for -- a habit that I've mostly kept (with occasional breaks) for the past ten years.

In Thanks, Emmons shares some of the findings of his research. Some of the results contradict the current psychological theory that each person has a "set point" of happiness determined by genetics -- that no matter what happens to you, you always return to the same level of happiness. Emmons found that people who kept a consistent gratitude journal were actually able to raise their level of happiness over time. Interestingly, he also found that in contrast to people who wrote down five things they felt hassled by, the people who wrote down blessings they were thankful for slept better, had more energy, suffered less illness, exercised more, were more optimistic about their future, and felt better about their lives. In another study that examined the autobiographies of nun novitiates, it was found that the nuns whose autobiographies expressed more positive emotions outlived the least happy nuns by seven years!

Emmons ties together scientific research and the writings of philosophers and theologians throughout history to present a very compelling case that gratitude may be one of the biggest keys to living a happier and fulfilling life.
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