Gratitude is not just an awareness that should be limited to the holidays, but a powerful point of view that should be exercised and shared as often as possible. Poignant reflection and thankfulness for all the good in your life doesn’t have to be a big production, and numerous studies show the benefits and power of gratitude.
According to a study conducted by UC Davis professor Robert Emmons and University of Miami professor Michael E. McCullough, participants who wrote down a few things at the end of the day that they were grateful for had stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, better quality of sleep, exercised more, were happier, more alert, and felt less lonely than those who wrote down negative happenings (Morain, 2010).
“participants who wrote down a few things at the end of the day that they were grateful for had stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, better quality of sleep, exercised more, were happier, more alert, and felt less lonely”
The grateful individuals were also more generous and more successful at accomplishing their personal goals. Other studies confirm these findings, including a few performed by Harvard Business School which further intimate that expressing gratitude towards others not only strengthens bonds in interpersonal relationships, but gives both parties a greater sense of self-worth, as well (Leddy, 2013). This suggests not only a pro-social element to gratitude, but a benefit to overall well-being.
Gratitude can easily be incorporated in your daily routine by keeping this sort of list, or through other modes of expression like writing thank you notes or simply reflecting on your day through meditation or prayer. The core of graciousness is realizing that there is always something to be thankful for, no matter how small or unassuming it may seem. Even if you are having a terrible day, you can be thankful for having your health, food in your stomach, clothes on your back, or simply another day that you got to get up and live. It isn’t always easy, but during rough periods—which we all experience—using this mode of thinking to help reassess what it is that you think you “need” can be an invaluable resource.
There is boundless spiritual value to this perspective, which can not only have a significant effect on your own life, but the lives of others. Giving compliments, thanking others for their help and tasks (large or small), and performing random acts of kindness, like paying the order for the car behind you in-line at the drive through, are selfless behaviors that can change a person’s day and encourage them to pay it forward. It’s this altruistic element that makes gratitude powerful, virtuous, and beneficial to the greater good. With the endless benefits to one’s own health, happiness, and well-being—not to mention to all those around us—there’s no reason to not try practicing grateful living more often.
Leddy, C., (2013, March 19). The Power of ‘Thanks.’ Daily Good. Retrieved from http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=5397
Morain, C., (2010, November 17). Thanksgiving can be a Year-Round Blessing, Researchers Say. UC Davis. Retrieved from http://dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=13082