Gratitude pays huge dividends in ways that will surprise you. It’s worth figuring out how to incorporate it into your life.
Scientists have discovered that feelings of thankfulness inspire happiness, among other things.
Basically, if you can re-wire your thinking to include being genuinely grateful for the amazing parts of your life, instead of having a scarcity mindset, you’ll live a fuller, richer life.
Here’s how being grateful heightens your enjoyment of life.
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1. Crafting thank-you notes boosts self-esteem
This is evidenced by a 2014 study of athletes published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Researchers found that teen athletes who thanked their coaches for success had higher self-worth than those who didn’t. The grateful players also scored better and trusted their coaches more than those who lacked appreciation.
At the University of California, swim coach Teri McKeever employs a novel training strategy. At the end of the season, Coach has her team write thank-you notes and make gifts for members of the college Athletic Department.
Does writing thank-you notes feel like a chore? Think of how you feel when you receive one!
2. Keeping a gratitude journal hones willpower
A 2014 finance study in Psychological Science showed that gratefulness fosters patience and self-control. Subjects were tested on self-discipline regarding money management. First, they were asked to journal an experience that prompted joy, gratitude, or indifference. Then, they were given a choice of receiving $54 immediately or $80 after three days.
Subjects whose writing primed them to feel joy or indifference wanted the cash upfront. Thankful subjects had more willpower, opting to wait the three days for the larger sum. The research also suggests that gratitude aids decision-making.
Study co-author Professor Li states that this finding applies to addictive behaviors, such as impulse buying, overeating, and smoking.
Is there a nasty habit you want to combat? When fighting a craving, take a moment to pen a thank-you note.
3. Being appreciative promotes health
In 2015, UC Davis Medical Center reported that being thankful improves our biochemistry. Some of the benefits of being thankful include reduced blood pressure, strengthened immunity, normalized cholesterol, lowered stress hormones, and improved kidney function.
Studies show that grateful people are inclined to exercise and eat healthfully. Are you lagging in these areas? Being appreciative can restore your resolve.
4. Expressing thankfulness attracts friends
Sending a thank-you note to a helpful person paves the way to friendship. This was the finding of a 2014 study at the University of New South Wales. The research involved 70 college attendees who gave advice to high school students. Mentors who received thank-you notes were highly inclined to offer their phone numbers and email addresses for future contact. The college kids also saw grateful teens as having warm personalities.
Is there a new acquaintance who’s gone the extra mile for you? Send them a note of gratitude, and you may gain a friend.
5. Staying mindful of good fortune builds resilience
Rebound quickly after misfortune by listing your blessings. A 2014 study cited in the Journal of Positive Psychology followed Israeli teens who survived a five-day missile attack. Those who remained grateful for their family and friends were least subject to post-traumatic stress disorder.
After a loss, being grateful for what remains will reinforce your strength.
6. Gratitude walks elevate mood
Staying mindful of your good fortune keeps unpleasant feelings at bay, such as envy, depression, fear, and resentment. Recalling the good in your life increases dopamine, a brain chemical released by pleasure. Other hormones that surge are oxytocin and serotonin, promoting affection and happiness.
Two 2008 studies in the Journal of Research in Personality found that grateful first-year college students had few bouts of depression.
When feeling dejected, take a gratitude walk. While strolling, note the things around you that lift your spirit. For example, “Wow, I love this sun and breeze. Look at those cute dogs with their owners and adorable kids! It’s so great being able to walk, see colors, and hear laughter.”
7. Thanking co-workers spurs motivation
A 2012 study in the Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion explains the benefits of being valued as an employee. Feeling appreciated inspires excellent job performance and the desire to help people.
A 2015 workplace study found that organizations who formally recognize their employees have better staff engagement, team relationships, and loyalty than businesses who don’t.
Tell coworkers you enjoy their company. If you’re a supervisor, start meetings by praising your staff for a recent achievement. Reward great performance with tangible thanks, such as catered lunches, bonuses, gift cards, and theater tickets. Here are other creative ways employers and staff can show gratitude.
8. Appreciating a partner enhances romance
Couples who convey what they value in each other are more committed than those who don’t. Grateful partners also enjoy greater intimacy and sexual fulfillment.
A 2015 University of Georgia study found that expressing gratitude fosters marriage longevity. Even when faced with other challenges, such as financial stress, spouses who feel appreciated are more likely to remain faithful.
If you’re in a romantic relationship, thank your sweetie for their love on a regular basis. Acknowledge the things they do for you, and the joy they bring to your life. Tell them how fortunate you feel to be theirs. Praise your love’s wonderful qualities and talents.
To keep your sentiments fresh, be inventive with your tributes. Here are some ways to shower your partner with appreciation.
9. Keeping a gratitude jar cultivates empathy
Thankfulness prompts compassion. In 2011, University of Kentucky scientists studied the relationship between aggression and appreciation. Grateful subjects were more likely to be kind to others, even after receiving negative feedback. Gratitude softens the desire to retaliate.
Note miraculous moments on slips of paper, and store them in a cookie jar. When feeling glum, raid the jar, and feast on your past revelations. In addition to being uplifted, you’ll develop benevolence.
10. Counting blessings at bedtime invites sound sleep
A 2009 study conducted at the University of Manchester, England showed that among 401 subjects, including 40 percent with sleep disorders, those who felt grateful enjoyed better sleep than those who harbored negative thoughts.
A helpful nightly habit is to journal or reflect on three things for which you’re deeply grateful. To keep your practice from getting stale, think of three new blessings each evening.
Tools of Gratitude
Daily acts of thankfulness will improve your self-esteem, willpower, health, friendships, resilience, mood, motivation, love life, empathy, and sleep.
For optimal benefits, use several forms of expression. You can keep a journal or gratitude jar. Write thank-you notes, offer gifts, and go on gratitude walks. Surprise people you value with gift cards.
Certain individuals have profoundly influenced your development. Send each a letter of appreciation while they’re still alive. Swap grumbling thoughts for thankful ones, and your joy in life will soar!