The Surprising Power of Gratitude
Expressing gratitude holds more power than you think.
Despite the cold weather outside, Thanksgiving is a warm holiday; for many, it’s full of delicious food, great company, and plenty of laughter. It’s also a time to reflect on the year and express gratitude for everything we have. This positive tradition is probably at least part of the reason why Thanksgiving is such a beloved holiday; we often approach it with thankfulness, kindness, and joy. Gratefulness and the positive outlook it generates shouldn’t be limited to one day of the year, however. Imagine what would happen to our daily lives if we cultivated a grateful attitude every day of the year — we’ll surely enjoy the power of gratitude!
The result is surprising: Living a life with a focus on gratitude has strong emotional and physical advantages that touch practically every aspect of a person’s life, from relationships to life expectancy. Here are just a few of the scientifically proven benefits of living a life full of gratitude.
Gratitude improves your self-esteem and life satisfaction.
When you’re grateful for what you have, you tend to compare yourself to others less. You seldom worry about whether someone has a better job or a bigger house; you’re content with the blessings you have and this is one power of gratitude. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have ambitions or strive to get that promotion, but it also means that your happiness isn’t dependent upon having the best. Studies have shown that grateful people have higher self-esteem and rate their satisfaction with their life higher than other people do. This means that if you can learn to be grateful for what you have right now, you’ll find that you don’t waste as much time envying other people’s success; instead, you’ll be able to truly enjoy and appreciate your own life and the unique blessings it holds.
It helps you forge better relationships.
Expressing gratitude is incredibly beneficial in a range of social situations. When you’re genuinely thankful to strangers, you’ll likely have better interactions with people like baristas and cashiers during your daily errands. Gratitude also helps you build better friendships and strengthens your relationships with your friends and romantic partner. Being more aware of the things your friends and family do for you will help you appreciate them more, and it will also make the people you care about feel valued when you notice something kind or thoughtful they have done and thank them for it, even if it’s small.
It increases your empathy, kindness, and patience.
Studies show that grateful people show an increased level of empathy, kindness, and patience. One study even found that grateful people were less likely to retaliate against people who had been rude or negative toward them. If you practice gratitude, you may find that you can empathize with people better, which, in turn, can help increase your patience and kindness toward others.
It can improve your mental health.
People who practice gratitude tend to be more optimistic and enthusiastic about life. They experience less stress, and when they do encounter stressful situations, they bounce back faster than the average person. Gratitude can even help relieve symptoms of depression, and exercises focusing on gratitude are often used by therapists to help people who are suffering from it. In short, practicing gratitude can help you maintain a fresh, happier outlook on life.
Gratitude may help you recover from trauma.
No one wants to experience trauma, but if you do undergo a traumatic event, having a more positive attitude might help you through the recovery process. Some studies suggest that grateful people have higher levels of post-traumatic growth, which is the personal growth that occurs after someone endures a traumatic experience. These people end up developing a new outlook or appreciation of life, increased strength, and can often find a way to help others. Gratitude can help you see the beauty in each day, but it can also help you weather some of life’s roughest storms.
It helps you get better sleep.
Studies have also shown that if you spend just 15 minutes before bed writing or thinking about what you’re thankful for that day, you will sleep better and longer than other people. Grateful people also report that they feel more refreshed in the morning and experience less fatigue. After all, gratitude reduces stress and causes less negative thoughts, both of which can keep you up at night or cause you to toss and turn in your sleep. Gratitude replaces those negative emotions with positive ones, helping you to get to sleep faster and get a longer, better quality night of sleep than you might get otherwise. This power of gratitude will do wonders for your health and well-being!
It helps you live a healthier, longer life.
This may sound strange, but living life with a sense of gratitude can actually improve your physical health. Thankful people have healthier habits, such as eating healthily and exercising more often, but they say that they feel healthier, too, reporting that they experience less pain and fatigue. They also tend to have lower blood pressure, better immune function, and healthier hearts. As a result, living a life focused on gratitude may even help you live longer!
This increased physical health may have a link to grateful people’s emotional health and lower stress levels. If you love and enjoy your life, you’re more likely to do what you can to live longer, such as taking care of your body through diet and exercise, going to checkups regularly, and getting medical treatment when you need it. Of course, your physical health doesn’t exist in a vacuum; gratitude can’t erase the role that genetics plays in your health or prevent autoimmune diseases. Regardless, gratitude can go a long way toward helping you improve your health as much as possible.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday and a wonderful time to focus on the blessings in our lives, but we shouldn’t relegate being grateful to just one day of the year. Finding things to be grateful for on a daily basis can impact your life in countless ways; it can improve your daily life and your outlook on your relationships, and it will also help you see a brighter future. Let’s take advantage of the power of gratitude daily!