It used to be that gratitude--being grateful--was something that you practised as a child at Christmas: saying a polite thank you to Auntie Tilda for the socks and underwear that were not on your wish list. Most of us can imagine feeling gratitude--tremendous gratitude, in fact,--if our numbers finally came up on the Mega Millions lottery. But more than a few researchers have found that after the initial euphoria, happiness levels return to what they were prior to the win. For example, this article might give you a new perspective of the benefit of a financial windfall in generating gratitude.
But we should not dismiss the benefits of gratitude. Scientific research may not promote windfalls but it does believe that regularly practising gratitude--sincere gratitude, not a cursory thank you to Auntie--provides health benefits. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California At Davis, has been a leading researcher in this growing field, termed 'positive psychology.' His research has found that those who adopt an 'attitude of gratitude' (now there's a catchy slogan!) as a permanent state of mind experience many health benefits.
But don't think it's just the affluent that can benefit. Beyond a certain basic level, more possessions do not increase happiness. Lots of marketing makes us think it does and there's no doubt that it is easy to assume a causal relationship, but it's just not so.