Robert Emmons is professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is convinced that gratitude is a morally complex disposition, a virtue, and an energizing and motivating emotion that can bring richness into our lives and the lives of others. The practice of gratitude does not come easy to many people but those who choose to cultivate it will find that it enables them to feel more loving, joyful, enthusiastic, and connected.
In his last book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Emmons showed that this virtue has one of the strongest ties to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait — more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion. In this book, he reports on his own and others' research on the benefits of a regular practice of gratitude. There are edifying and uplifting chapters on journaling for gratitude; gratitude letters and visits; showing gratitude through spiritual disciplines; and gratitude in relation to suffering and redemption.
In one of the most interesting chapters, the author shares pathways to gratitude that have been tried by believers in all the world's religions and spiritual people of all stripes: fasting, silence and solitude, simplicity, mindful materialism, and self-reflection (including a commentary on the moral inventory of Benjamin Franklin), the Ignatian daily Examen, and the Buddhist meditation technique known as Naikan. An equally fascinating section probes the main hindrance to gratitude as entitlement (which takes within its embrace disappointment, regret, and frustration) and its cure — humility. Emmons closes with a 21-day challenge for creating emotional prosperity.