The Power of Gratitude
“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool. Unfortunately, only 20% of Americans see it as such. Gratitude is as much an expression of thanks as it is an emotion. Giving thanks to others is important, don’t get me wrong, but experiencing feelings of gratitude on a deeper, more personal level has countless benefits in both the short and long term. Gratitude is a key aspect in many religions as a way to get the most satisfaction from life yet it unfortunately can be a very short-lived emotion.
We are taught as children to always say thank you to others. While this is a nice courtesy, it isn’t the type of gratitude I am referring to. In fact, it’s almost irrelevant when looking at the studies about the benefits of gratitude. The type I am talking about is more about a perspective towards life and everything you have. This form of gratitude is a skill which, when consistently put into practice can be improved, making you aware each day of more things to be grateful for.
This is the kind of gratitude I am talking about:
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
So, What Are The Benefits Of Gratitude?
Gratitude can improve your relationships, career, emotions, health, and social aspects of your life. Click here for a helpful infographic of the main 31 benefits and here for more details about those benefits!
The Main Science-Backed Benefits of Gratitude Are:
Improved Relationships With Others
When we are more grateful, we become more appreciative of what we have, and therefore nicer to those around us. Studies, such as this one in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology show that the higher someone’s levels of gratitude are, the more trusting and social they appear to others. This can lead to long-lasting interpersonal and emotional benefits and an overall improved sense of well-being. Romantic relationships are also positively affected by gratitude, as shown in this study about the effects journaling has on the outcome of a relationship.
Increased Mental Health
Studies show that people, in this case teens, who exhibit gratitude are more happy than those who don’t. Experiencing a more positive outlook on life can lead to decreased feelings of stress and depression, and the ability to better deal with loss, grief, and trauma. Recognizing all that you have to be grateful for enables you to become more resilient in the face of adversity.
Enhanced Sleep Quality
2 words. Gratitude Journal! Research shows that spending 15 minutes or so before bed each night making note of what you are grateful for can lead to longer and better sleep. The act of writing down all that you are grateful for helps to rid the mind of day-to-day worries and quiet it for a night of restful sleep.
Boost In Physical Health
In addition to helping with mental health, gratitude also improves heart and immune function. Researchers have found that being optimistic leads to more immune boosting blood cells than those who are pessimistic. It’s also no surprise that those who are more optimistic take better care of themselves and are more likely to schedule regular checkups than those who aren’t. Studies have also found that positive emotions have a beneficial effect on heart rate variability, reducing the chances of heart failure and hypertension.
How Can You Increase Gratitude?
There are many ways you can practice gratitude so keep trying until you find the one or two that work best for you!
Some popular methods are:
- As stated before, journaling can help hold you accountable for what you are grateful for during the day. (It’s usually more than you think!)
- Taking time in the morning to open your mind to the possibilities of the day can be a great way to start off on a positive note, already thankful for what the day will bring
- Showing Gratitude
- For some, showing others how thankful they are for them is a great way to share positivity and open their eyes to other opportunities for which they are grateful
- Reflecting On The Day Before Bed
- Falling asleep while thinking positive thoughts helps to emotionally balance and restore the mind while sleeping, preparing you for a restful night of sleep and the day ahead
This week, instead of just reading about the benefits of gratitude, I challenge you to act! Every day for the next 5 days, write down 3 things which you are grateful for in a gratitude journal. It will only take 5-10 minutes and you could see some amazing benefits from it!
Thank you for reading! Your support and kind words are something I am grateful for every day.