Over the last few years the world started to recognize the importance of gratitude as the key element to become happier human. Learning how to be thankful for life’s simple wonders can truly transform our lives forever. This is not just mumbo jumbo positive talk, let’s look at some of the scientific proofs of it.
1. Gratitude make you physically healthier
So it’s true – gratitude is beneficial for our health. Evidence shows that grateful people tend to experience fewer pains and aches and overall feel healthier than other people. (1)
Can gratitude helps you sleep better? Evidence suggests performing gratitude exercises can help (2, 3). So the next time you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, instead of counting sheep you may want to try counting blessings instead.
Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, noton your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.—Charles Dicken
Thankful people often perceive their health as a blessing or a gift. This is why they are motivated to take better care of themselves. Emmons and McCullough found out, people who have taken a few minutes once a week to write down five things they were grateful for, spent more time exercising and were more likely to attend regular health check-ups than the control group. (4)
Researcher Jeff Huffman claims “experiencing gratitude—particularly in-the-moment, specific gratitude—may not only increase your well-being and outlook, it might make you change your behavior and lifestyle, which could in turn help you to live longer and better.“ (5)
2. Gratitude increase your psychological strength
The benefits of gratitude reach far beyond the physical. As self-esteem is often considered to be the solid base of mental health, Lung Hung and Chiahuei in 2014 published a study that confirmed gratitude increases athletes’ self-esteem which is a crucial component for optimal performance (7).
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., well-known author of the “The Science of Gratitude” book, has conducted various studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His researches show a grateful person has a lower number of toxic emotions, from jealousy and resentment to frustration and regret. His research confirms that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression (6).
Gratitude also reduces social comparisons. It’s been proved grateful people are able to appreciate both their own and other people’s accomplishments, which will ultimately lead to greater interpersonal relationships, greater empathy, a more pronounced feeling of happiness, and, finally, a life defined by positive emotion and long-lasting well-being (7).
3. Gratitude can boost relationships
Grateful people are more likely to have prosocial behaviour. Participants in the survey, who scored higher on gratitude scales retaliated against others less often, even when they were given negative feedback. They showed more empathy and sensitivity and were less resentful (8).
In terms of relationships gratitude helps to strengthen relationships and contribute to relationship connection and satisfaction (9). A study from 2013 found that after receiving gratitude, participants reported their significant others were more responsive to their needs and generally more satisfied with their relationship. These effects were still present six to nine months later. (10)
Survey on gratitude in professional context revealed that expressing gratitude for a job well done can increase the confidence and sense of self-worth in employees, especially if it comes from a person in a supervisory position. At the same time, being grateful increase trust among colleagues and enhanced willingness and initiative to help one another out. (5)
How to start cultivating gratitude?
Now, take all these benefits of gratitude expression, and combine them with the power of daily habits. Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful way to easily incorporate gratitude into your life. Keep it on a bedside table, and each morning and evening spend few moments recording things that made your day better, for which you can be thankful. Eventually, it will become second nature to record those thoughts, and help you trend away from focusing on the parts of your life that can bring you down.