It’s that time of year where all start to think of everything we are thankful for. Though it's important to count your blessings throughout the year, the practice of gratitude could have tremendous benefits on your quality of life. In fact, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked gestures and practices that we all have access to every day. Cultivating gratitude does not have to cost money or even time, but the benefits are enormous.
See how the practice of gratitude can benefit you:
1. Gratitude helps create more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” count as good manners, expressing and showing appreciation can help you win new friends. One study published in the 2014 journal of Emotion, found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or you forward a brief note of thanks, consider gratitude a useful practice!
2. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces and prevents a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. In fact, the act of simply expressing gratitude can improve your mood. People who regularly express gratitude for the positive things in their life are shown to be happier overall, leading to lower rates of stress and depression. Studies also show that those who express gratitude regularly appear to have a more positive outlook on life and experience less anxiety and depression.
3. Gratitude can improve overall physical health. People who practice gratitude tend to experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, For those who actively express gratitude, research published in Personality and Individual Differences revealed that grateful people are also more likely to invest in and take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctor.
4. Gratitude increases empathy and reduces aggression. Even when others behave less kind, grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner. For instance, study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were least likely to retaliate against others, even in response to negative feedback. These individuals also experienced more sensitivity and empathy and showed a decreased desire to seek revenge.
5. Grateful people sleep better. Gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts, and fewer negative ones, at bedtime. Study participants tended to doze off faster and sleep longer and better. In fact, keeping a gratitude journal improves sleep, According to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being spending just 15 minutes journaling a few grateful sentiments before bed, can help you sleep better and longer.
6. Gratitude increases self-esteem. In the field of Positive Psychology, psychologists concentrate on what they consider to be a core of “signature strengths” that people have. These strengths can help you build up feelings that make you feel better about yourself. One of those signature strengths is gratitude. Studies have also shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve.