07 Apr The Power of Gratitude
I’ve known about practicing gratitude for a little while now, however it’s only been recently that I’ve come to understand the power and impact it can have if practiced on a regular basis (daily).
I recently was shown a video of a guy named Hugh who is a part of the Resilience Project. It was after watching his message that I realised the amazing research that has been done on the simple practice of gratitude (watch the video here).
So what is gratitude exactly? Psychology today describes it as:
An emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants.
If you need some more convincing on why you should add this practice to your daily routine, here are 7 scientifically proven benefits of practicing gratitude (taken from a great article from Forbes):
1. It opens the door to more relationships.
Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study 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 send a quick thank-you note to that co-worker who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
2. Improves physical health.
Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
3. Improves psychological health.
Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
4. Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
5. Grateful people sleep better.
Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
6. Improves self-esteem.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have 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.
7. Increases mental strength.
For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.
So give it a try. Make it a topic of conversation with your partner, your children, and your friends. Or make it a sacred practice that you do on your own. If you need a little accountability, I’ve found the Gratitude Journal App to be really helpful. I’ve set my alarm to go off at 9pm every night to remind me to write down what I’m grateful for – or simply discuss it with my boyfriend.
So for today – my 3 things I’m grateful for are:
- Working in a loving and healing environment with great people and lovely clients,
- Close friendships, family and my boyfriend,
- An extra long lunch break 😉
What are you grateful for today?