The Thanksgiving holiday was established to commemorate our gratitude for overcoming challenges as people settled America. With Thanksgiving approaching in this very challenging year, isn’t it even more appropriate to be grateful? After all, an attitude of gratitude is healthful.
In fact, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools for wellness that anyone can access. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous.
Gratitude opens the door to more relationships
Saying “thank you” is considered good manners, and showing appreciation helps you win new friends. According to a 2014 study published in Emotion, thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.
Gratitude improves physical health
Grateful people report feeling healthier than other people – experiencing fewer aches and pains – 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.
Gratitude improves psychological health
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and mental well-being. Gratitude reduces a wide range of toxic emotions that range from envy and resentment to frustration and regret, while effectively increasing happiness and reducing depression.
Grateful people sleep better
According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, writing in a gratitude journal before bedtime improves sleep. Simply spending 10 minutes revisiting moments of your day and jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed can help you sleep better and longer.
Gratitude 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. Becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs is a major factor in reduced self-esteem. Grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
Gratitude increases mental strength
For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude have 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 that you have to be thankful for – even during the most challenging times of your life – fosters resilience.
Yes, we think of thanksgiving at this time of year. Yet, we all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis. Rather than complain about things that are missing in your life, take a few moments to focus on grateful thoughts for all that you have. Nurturing and sharing an “attitude of gratitude” is healthful and one of the easiest ways to improve your life.