While people in the US dine turkey with their families celebrating Thanksgiving the 4th Thursday of every November, giving thanks is not only a one-day feast.
There are people practicing gratitude daily, and oh, they are so right!
But first things first!
There are tons of definitions for this word. Mine is – a thankful appreciation of a person, object or situation.
Gratitude is being thankful, grateful… appreciate or acknowledge someone or something.
I have a confession to make – for a long time, I banned this word from my dictionary, thinking it’s too religious or woowoo. It took me a while to realize that gratitude is not linked to a religion.
You can practice gratitude without being religious or spiritual at all. A good news, since science proved a bunch of benefits for those practicing gratitude. Here are some:
#1. Gratitude makes us happier
Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough did a research on gratitude. They asked a group to write about things they were grateful for and had two control groups write about displeasing or neutral happenings. It turned out, those who wrote about gratitude felt better about their lives after 10 weeks.
In another study, Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania had participants write and deliver a letter of gratitude to someone they hadn’t thanked for, compared to a control group whose assignment was to write about childhood memories. The first group showed a huge increase in self-evaluated happiness scores.
And while we cannot be 100% sure about the cause-effect relationship in studies like these, strong correlation between gratitude and happiness (or well-being) have been demonstrated in numerous studies, which cannot be a pure coincidence.
#2. Gratitude increases sleep quality
This one is for my insomniac friends! 🙂
What’s the last thing you think of before falling asleep?
I bet it’s your next day’s plans… or that day’s happenings.
Either way, not the most harmonious thoughts you can have right before bedtime.
So if you ever struggle with sleep (either the quality or falling asleep fast), keep a gratitude journal that you fill in as last thing of the day and see the difference.
#3. Gratitude might improve your relationship or marriage
According to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, feeling gratitude toward your spouse or significant other can improve numerous aspects of your relationship, the biggest ones being connectedness and overall satisfaction.
Once the ‘pink cloud’ period is over, most people in a relationship tend to notice the negatives rather than the positives. And yet, acknowledging our partner for their strengths and positive actions is equally important.
To be exact, according to a study, you need three positive interactions with your spouse to make up for one negative.
So gratitude time now at home, ladies and gents! 🙂
#4. Gratitude can make you more patient and self-controlled
In a research, David DeSteno from Northeastern University has found that people who felt grateful for little, everyday things were more patient and self-controlled, able to wait for a bigger long-term gain than take an immediate, but smaller gain.
#5. Gratitude makes us more optimistic
Which is kind of logical:
Gratitude = less feeling of envy = more positive feelings = optimism.
Adn this optimism can further help us in two ways:
#6. Gratitude builds resilience
Being thankful for the gifts of life indeed helps us bounce back. It creates a more pro-active coping mechanism that can be activated in times of adversity.
And as we know, resilience is key in our today’s fast changing, challenging world…
#7. Gratitude eases depression
That’s the result showed in a study where participants were asked to do the „three good things” exercise (counting your blessings) daily. A 30% improvement in depression was seen in as little as a couple of weeks.
#8. Gratitude makes you healthier
That’s the conclusion from a study done in 2003. After keeping a gratitude journal (counting blessings) participants reported 16% fewer physical symptoms, 10% less physical pain and they spent 19% more time on exercising.
In another research in 2007, patients with hypertension were instructed to count their blessings once a week. The result? A significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.
It seems like gratitude is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your health!
But it does far more than that:
#9. Gratitude increases your energy level
Again, numerous studies showed a strong correlation between gratitude and vitality. So gratitude not only decreases some physical symptoms you might be having, but it also increases your general physical well-being and energy level.
And in case you’re wondering how to practice gratitude, here are some examples:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Count your blessings (note down 3 good things that you’re grateful for that happened that day)
- Give a compliment to someone
- Say „thank you”
- Tell people how you appreciate them – and what for
- Send a gratitude card or letter to someone
- When encountering a negative situation, ask yourself: What is the lesson? What am I grateful for here?
And ultimetely remember, there are always people out there who are in a far worse situation than you are.
So count your blessings and be healthier! 🙂