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Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier Hardcover – August 6, 2007
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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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“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
Top customer reviews
Pierre M. Eade
Author, Born to Grow
While the book is science based it is written especially with the general public in mind, and is not in any way boring or overly technical. Emmons includes plenty of anecdotes to make the material human and easy to relate to. At only two hundred and nine pages it is a short read, but contains enough material to convince you to change your attitude and your life. Quite copious notes are provided if you want to follow up any of the topics mentioned in more detail. If you want a more professional, scientific report of this material you should read Emmons' book The Psychology of Gratitude (Series in Affective Science).
The book covers the topics:
The psychology of gratitude, including how and why it works, such as the fact that we gain enhanced social relationships when we realize that someone has done something special for us,
How the emotion of gratitude works in our body, for example "... the welling we feel in the throat, the warmth ...",
Gratitude in a religious context, ranging over Christianity, including Pentecostalism, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism,
Obstacles to grateful living, such as forgetfulness and feeling an obligation to repay the kindness,
Can we feel gratitude in difficult times, and,
Practical methods of increasing a sense of gratitude.
While reading this book I started writing a "gratitude journal" in which I 'count my blessings' each day. I have found that this technique forces one to look at the good things, rather than the bad, and that this can quite alter ones perception of 'reality'. Previously when something bad happened I would tend to say "Today was bad", but now those feelings are balanced by my list of small but valuable good events, so I can see that the whole day was not bad. I recommend this book especially if you are a suffer of depression, but anyone can benefit making their good life even better.
Note: Emmons is an academic so he spends much time detailing his research, which may or may not interest you. I encourage you, however, to pay special attention to Chapters 1 (The new science of gratitude) and 2 (Gratitude and the psyche) and the final Chapter, 7, in which Emmons details nine practices that have proven effective in building a feeling of gratitude - leading to increased happiness!
This book came out at about the same time as Deborah Norville's book, "Thank You Power." I highly recommend that book as a companion read so as to get a double dose of the power of Gratitude. I found the two to be delightfully reinforcing of one another...yet with enough difference to justify the time invested in reading both.
This book's closing ten prescriptions for practicing gratitude are, without doubt, a roadmap for a better life, when implemented and maintained. The challenge as the book makes clear is to maintian an attitude of gratitude even in the face of hitting some of the potholes of life.