3 Amazing Benefits of Gratitude

3 Amazing Benefits of Gratitude

The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us to take time out for gratitude. But if you can make thankfulness a core part of your daily mantra, you’ll reap so much more than just that warm-fuzzy feeling around the table this November. Leading researchers in the field of positive psychology have found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” gain a number of health benefits—from better exercise regimens to healthier eating habits and even stronger relationships.

“In my own life, I have found that an attitude of gratitude improves my sense of well-being and amplifies my happiness,” says Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, Executive Director of Wasatch Family Therapy in Salt Lake City, Utah and author of  The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women.  That’s because, as Hanks explains, “expressing gratitude helps us focus on what we have instead of focusing on what we lack.” 

Here’s a look at some of the latest research on the benefits of gratitude, plus ways you can incorporate gratefulness into your everyday life.

Benefit #1: Gratitude can rev up your energy. In a study conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being, results indicated that daily gratitude exercises gave people a grab-life-by-the-horns outlook. Participants of the study reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm and determination, leading to overall improved life satisfaction. 

Benefit #2: Gratitude can boost your immunity. Those who practice gratitude are usually more optimistic, a characteristic that has been shown to enhance immune systems. This results in less health problems and a better mood. 

Benefit #3: Gratitude can help you cope with stress. Managing day-to-day stress gets easier with a positive stance on life. Gratitude research suggests that thankfulness adds tremendous value in helping people cope with daily problems. 

Three tips to cultivate gratefulness 

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Take time out of each day to list out 3 to 5 things (not necessarily materialistic) you are most thankful for. In a 10-week study, those who kept a gratitude journal showed a 25 percent increase in happiness.
  • Alter your attitude. The challenges we face in life are usually dictated by how we perceive them. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of a challenge or situation, reframe it positively. This can turn what once seemed to be a huge ordeal into just a small inconvenience.  For example, instead of getting riled up about dealing with a difficult co-worker, see how the situation can help you improve your patience to be a more levelheaded individual.
  • Focus your attention outward. Focus more energy on others instead of being so “me-centric”—this can increase happiness levels and add meaning to relationships. “Expressing gratitude directly to others improves relationships by acknowledging the tremendous value they have in our lives, and the unique ways they contribute to our well-being,” Hanks says. 

This content originally appeared on DailyStrength.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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