Happiness Book Club 4: How to be grateful

Vanessa King, positive psychology expert at Action for Happiness, recommends a book every month to improve our happiness levels


Happiness Book Club 4: How to be grateful

Recent research has shown that positive emotions can broaden our perceptions, in much the same way that negative emotions can narrow them. This helps us to see more, respond more flexibly and in new ways, and be more creative. It makes us more open to different ideas or experiences and we feel closer to and more trusting of others.

That’s why, this month, I’m recommending Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (Jossey Bass, £13.99) by Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. ‘Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. Instead, it means realising the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing a loss into a potential gain, recasting negativity into positive channels for gratitude,’ he says.

His book helps you focus on creating an attitude of gratitude – to celebrate success when it happens, and to reconsider crises with the question: what am I learning? Create a daily practice of intentional gratitude by asking – what am I grateful for today?

The book is sprinkled with statistics such as: grateful people have a seven per cent higher income, are more likely to be physically fit, and add seven years to their life expectancy.

Three questions to discuss this month:

  • How do you celebrate when things go well in your life?
  • Think about a crisis in your life – what positive things did you learn from it?
  • What three things are you grateful for right now?

For more on Action for Happiness, go to actionforhappiness.org. Create your own HAPPINESS BOOK CLUB here

To receive monthly updates about our Happiness Book Club and more information, sign up here:

Photograph: iStock