Gratitude is a big deal. It’s good for all of us, as we feel it, express it and share it. In the month of November, there is a big push for it on social media and elsewhere. Perhaps it’s part of your reflections at the end of a year or whenever you are regrouping. Nurturing it as part of our daily lives besides those occasional bursts is beneficial in many ways.
Gratitude IS a big deal. It is part of our relationships, our connection with our higher power, and how we view the world. Numerous studies have identified the benefits of having an attitude of gratitude. Note that this is not an occasional expression, but an attitude or a mindset that is part of our way of living life. Here are five benefits identified in studies:
Benefit #1 – Gives More Patience
Researchers at Northeastern University have found that people who felt grateful for the little everyday things in their lives were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions, compared to those who didn’t feel thankful on a daily basis.
Benefit #2 – Improves Relationships
Feeling grateful toward your partner, other family members and friends (and their gratitude to you) can improve numerous aspects of a relationship, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology. This includes stronger feelings of connectedness and overall satisfaction between you.
This extends beyond our close relationships. A 2014 study discovered that thanking an acquaintance for a kindness more often than not makes them seek a deeper relationship with you. It doesn’t matter how small the kindness. Simply acknowledging little deeds leads to new relationship opportunities, and of course, more happiness.
Benefit #3 – Improves Health
Gratitude increases optimism, and optimism has been proven to boost the immune system. According to a study by Harvard Medical school, those who are optimistic live happier, healthier, longer lives.
Benefit #3 – Improves Sleep
Feeling grateful can help you sleep better and for longer. This is most likely because you have more positive thoughts before you go to sleep, which can help to soothe the nervous system. If you are going to make a daily gratitude list, or keep a gratitude journal, studies have shown that it is best to do this right before bed.
Benefit #4 – Eases Depression
Recent studies have shown that by practicing the “three good things” exercise daily, you can see considerable improvements in depression and overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a few weeks. The activity prompts you to think of three good things or moments that happened during the day. It interrupts the gloom and downward spiral that depression creates.
According to another study, even a one-time act of thoughtful appreciation produced a 10% increase in happiness and 35% reduction in depression.
Benefit #5 – Gives You Happiness that Lasts
Numerous things can give you a boost of happiness, from a compliment to a sugary treat. Unfortunately, these kinds of instant gratification can quickly disappear and leave you craving more. Gratitude, on the other hand, is something that can lead to a much more sustainable form of happiness because it isn’t based in that immediate gratification, but rather a state of mind. If you take the time to regularly express gratitude and thankfulness for the things in your life, you are more than likely to see long-lasting happiness. I wrote earlier about this here: http://carolbrusegar.com/gratitude-beyond-lists-moment/
Cultivating and sustaining an attitude of gratitude can have these benefits and more. If you already have this mindset and approach to life, you may appreciate its benefits even more now. If you would like to build an attitude of gratitude into your life, find more inspiration and tools to help you accomplish this.
Let’s start with a simple monthly Gratitude Wheel. This is free, downloadable and printable. Each day, fill in a spoke of the wheel with what you are grateful for that day. At the end of the month you will have a visual that you can tape up where you can see it or put in a notebook. I love the visual as an option to the lists that gratitude journals provide. Download it here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Gratitude-Wheel
Perhaps a daily reading will provide inspiration for you. Consider one of the 365 Days of Gratitude compilations of the Community Book Project. There are two completely different volumes.
Gratitude is a big deal! May your attitude of gratitude enhance your life every day!!
I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.