Perspective of Louisville Wrongful Death Lawyers: Be grateful every day.
The job of a wrongful death lawyer isn’t more important than any other job. But, much like police officers and emergency medical technicians, our job does uniquely give us a constant perspective of appreciation for life.
As we recently mentioned in our blog about grief after wrongful death, we regularly observe the devastating emotional toll of untimely loss. Like anyone who has experienced such a loss, we encourage anyone who will listen … Appreciate your life and the lives of those you love. Every day. This is something we have all heard, but sometimes, the toil of day to day life causes us to lose sight of how important it really is.
The general principle is expressed many times and in many ways. For example, ‘carpe diem’ is generally translated as seize the day, imploring us to make the most of every day. More recently, ‘attitude of gratitude’ is a popular phrase describing an appreciation for life and approaching each day as a gift. Inevitably, these phrases (and dozens like them) are expressed with the sub-message that gratitude is essential for happiness. Is it true? If so, is it easier said than done? How can we purposefully live a more grateful life with the many ups and downs of everyday life?
You know how much we like research … so here are a few references.
Is it true that an “attitude of gratitude” makes us happy?
The “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens Study” by Emmons and McCullough, published in 2003 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, details results of scientific tests examining the impact of outlook on psychological and physical well-being. While we won’t outline the full methodology and conclusions in this blog (but encourage you to use the link and read at your leisure), this quote is a good summary:
The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
One study does not a verdict make, but it is interesting, nonetheless.
So. . . is it easier said than done? How can we purposefully live a more grateful life with the many ups and downs of everyday life?
This article provides some good ways to keep gratitude at the forefront of your mind: “How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude.” Like many other sources on the topic, the primary suggestions involve taking time to list blessings and express thankfulness – in writing and on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. Gratitude journals and thank you notes are not a trite or archaic formality. They really are important for you and for others. The article explains:
One study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who wrote and delivered a heartfelt thank-you letter actually felt happier for a full month after, and the same researchers discovered that writing down three positive events each day for a week kept happiness levels high for up to six months.
Though it is not mentioned in the link, remembering to stop, breathe, and think is the first step to gaining perspective in any situation. When you find yourself stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted by the day to day, stop and ask yourself: Does this really matter?
There you have it. Even if these studies are not empirical proof, how could the recommendations ever hurt? And, even without scientific support, we know from experience that each day of life is a gift. Appreciate it. And, say thank you.