Practising gratitude is scientifically proven to give significant health benefits and yield positive emotions. By acknowledging gratitude consistently, you can benefit from an improved mood and experience feelings of joy and happiness.
Here are our Top 10 Benefits to Practising Gratitude:
- Practising gratitude directly impacts your health. It has a positive shift on your physical, emotional and mental health. People who practice gratitude report feeling less pain and, generally speaking, are healthier than those who don’t acknowledge gratitude in their lives. Practising gratitude releases toxic emotions such as anger and envy, thus leading to a reduced incidence of depression and sadness.
- Scientific studies have shown that people who regularly practise gratitude report an improved level of deeper, uninterrupted sleep. By either listening to positive affirmations before bedtime or keeping a gratitude journal, you can ensure you’re mindfully bringing gratitude into your awareness.
- It improves self-esteem. Studies have shown that people are less likely to compare themselves to others and are more likely to celebrate their achievements rather than harbour feelings of resentment or jealousy. Gratitude helps you to see your self-worth and reduce negative emotions such as bitterness and greed.
- Gratitude has social benefits. People who practice gratitude have a larger social network, more friends and better relationships, including those of a romantic nature. They are also seen to be more trustworthy, social and appreciative (Amin, 2014). Showing gratitude has a positive impact on your partner and your friends and leads to having more social support.
- For children, gratitude has also been proven to protect them from anxiety and depression and help them to deal with difficult situations (Stoeckel, Weissbrod & Ahrens, 2015).
- Research suggests that gratitude has a positive effect on one’s career. It increases your professional network, increases productivity, makes you a more effective communicator and aids decision making abilities. It increases opportunities for growth as well as success and gives way to new perspectives and opportunities.
- Being grateful makes us more optimistic. There is a strong correlation between optimism and gratitude, which in turn leads to hope and happiness. There becomes an ability to garner further strength through ongoing optimism. From a physiological viewpoint, Harvard studies have shown that being optimistic has a positive effect on blood pressure and the cardiovascular system with a reduced incidence of heart disease.
- Gratitude increases your energy levels. As gratitude improves our physical and mental health, it is no surprise to find that people who practise gratitude have more energy! They are also more likely to exercise, which further releases happy inducing hormones called endorphins. Gratitude also increases the level of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – all of which are our bodies natural feel-good chemicals.
- It makes us feel good. Unsurprising, given all of the benefits of gratitude! It makes us healthier, happier and more resilient. Gratitude keeps us focused on the positive and the good things in our lives. It reminds us of what we have. It makes us more appreciative. It helps us experience more positive emotions, enjoy things more and feel better about ourselves.
- Studies show that gratitude has long-lasting effects on the brain. MRI scans show that when people are feeling grateful, their brain activity is different to those who are not practising gratitude. The scans showed greater neural sensitivity in the area of the brain linked to decision making and learning.
- Practising gratitude reduces the need for materialism and increases spirituality. Materialism is linked to reduced feelings of well being and a higher incidence of mental health disorders. Genuinely grateful people do not rate material goods as important. They are more spiritual and feel a greater connection to others. Forbes has described gratitude as the ultimate spiritual practice. Gratitude has also been described as a spiritual discipline. Robert Emmons defines gratitude as affirming goodness and recognising that the sources of goodness lie outside of the self.
Now that you are aware of the truly transformational impact that practising gratitude provides, how can you get started? It is more than just writing a list of things you’re grateful for, although that is one element of gratitude.
We recommend using a gratitude journal and writing in it every day. Nurture your relationships and tell people what you appreciate about them. Practice kindness. Become aware of the beauty in nature and all around you. Feel grateful before every meal for the food you are about to eat.
Recognise when someone does something well and offer praise. Notice critical thoughts and replace them with something more positive. See the good in every situation, for we are learning even from the difficult ones. See opportunities rather than obstacles and be thankful for the chance to grow.
The more you practice gratitude, the more you will find it is naturally incorporated into your life. If you are interested in learning more about gratitude and developing your own practice, schedule a free call here.
Rachael and Michelle