During a time of pervasive socio-political strife, and amidst ongoing disagreements and name-calling on social media, let’s address gratitude. Immersed in a better-faster-greater society, and even in the richest country in the world, we may sometimes – or often – favor complaining over giving thanks. In fact, research shows that the average person complains about 30 times per day.
And yet, a growing body of scientific studies all point to the multiple benefits of gratitude. Seriously, your emotional, mental and physical health are enhanced simply if you shift your thinking to consciously being more grateful. It’s not about being sappy or a Pollyanna – but genuinely acknowledging what is good and positive in your life. Certainly, in America, we have a lot to be thankful for.
So check out these compelling, research-proven benefits of gratitude, and get started today on this healthy habit of transforming your mindset! There are many gratitude books and journals available, and lots of advice online on how to easily incorporate gratitude as part of your life.
10 Benefits of Gratitude
- Increases happiness. This seems kind of obvious, but bears emphasizing. Life definitely has its ups and downs, and can be challenging. But we have a choice of how we focus. By opting for gratitude – even in the presence of difficulties – we are naturally more positive and happier.
- Boosts self-esteem. Just scanning some social media posts or comparing ourselves to others can sometimes give our self-esteem a hit. By practicing gratitude however, we stimulate positivity and satisfaction, which can contribute to greater self-confidence.
- Enhances relationships. Nobody truly benefits from a Debbie Downer. Yet grateful people radiate optimism, hope and acceptance, while being more emotionally balanced, which makes them magnets for friends and significant others. Plus, they have a broader, stronger social support network to lean on when times are tough.
- Reduces depression. Not surprising, looking on the bright side helps you avoid, or get out of, the blues. One study showed that participants experienced a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms for several weeks while engaged in gratitude journaling.
- Encourages exercise. This doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy to hit the gym at 5 a.m., but research indicates that people who are consciously grateful are more likely to work out regularly.
- Enhances sleep. A gratitude intervention increased sleep quality – with less time to fall asleep and greater duration of sleep – and reduced blood pressure in participants, leading to enhanced well-bein When you’re better rested, life can seem easier, which, in turn, can make you more grateful.
- Strengthens career. Gratitude has been shown to make people be more effective managers, network better, increase productivity and help attract mentors and proteges, which is great news, no matter where you work and what you do for a living.
- Decreases materialism. Materialism is correlated with diminished well-being and increased rates of mental disorder, and makes people feel dissatisfied, more self-centered and less competent. Being grateful is a mindset shift that focuses on what you already have, thereby breeding contentment instead.
- Bolsters resiliency. Gratitude helps us deal with and bounce back from life’s stressors and traumas, both big and small. By purposefully seeking out the positive, we don’t let negative emotions overwhelm us and distort our perspective. You recognize that you can survive and even thrive even when life is hard.
- Promotes health. Research shows that people who engage in gratitude practices feel less pain, have fewer health disturbances (such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems and respiratory infections), go to the doctor less often, have lower blood pressure, and are less likely to develop a mental disorder.