Gratitude is often a Thanksgiving practice, but studies show that learning this act and practicing it all year round too has more mental and physical benefits than you can imagine. It is a free, time-saving well-being tool that you should stop overlooking, due to its enormous benefits. Below are some benefits of gratitude we all could do with, with a little introspection.
Gratitude leads to better physical health
There is a lot of scientific evidence that supports that a grateful heart makes one healthier. Studies suggest that your immune system is designed to work optimally when your outlook is more positive than negative. For example, there is evidence to show that optimism usually brewed in the kettle of gratitude, has supported better health outcomes in patients with breast cancer, HIV or post-op patients.
Better psychological health
Gratitude has also been linked with a healthy mental state. A more grateful person is more likely to believe in their ability to overcome adverse circumstance than an ungrateful one. Negativity is a trait most fatalists have, leading them to believe that their fate is not in their control and that the events of their lives have gone out of hand.
Studies by Chih-Che Lin support that a high level of gratitude goes hand in hand with positive self-esteem, and is vital towards warding off depression. A leading researcher in the field of benefits of gratitude Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., notes that gratitude will reduce the effect of frustration, envy, resentment and regret to your psychological well being.
Research done on about 400 men and women on the effects of gratitude on sleep quality amongst others show that more significant gratitude levels in a person predict better sleep quality and duration. Counting blessings rather than sheep works better and taking your 15 minutes before sleep to jot down all that you are grateful for may aid you to fall asleep faster, and keep you in that state longer.
The reason is that when you are feeling grateful, you most likely are not entertaining thoughts that increase your stress levels, which results in insomnia.
Builds better relationships
Gratitude has been found to be a stable building block for soild, happier and healthier relationships. For example, studies show that gratitude helps teenagers and young adults with ill parents stay away from depression and anxiety.
In fact, other studies suggest that gratitude may be the best way to stay out of divorce court. This study in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, suggests that journaling about things you are grateful for in your spouse will make your relationship more connected and satisfactory.
Besides family relationships, being grateful can also help you meet new acquaintances much more efficiently, by merely adding “thank you” to your conversations, where its called for. The people you appreciate and acknowledge are more likely to pursue stronger and more prolonged relationships with you, leading to better opportunities for healthy relationships.
Increases mental strength.
Resilience or mental strength is a combination of various positive traits, chief among them being optimism, brought about by gratitude. The U.S army is well known for the large numbers of soldiers that go back home victorious in battle but beaten down by the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder due to the experience of trauma.
To assist their heroes, the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) was designed to enhance their mental resilience, by addressing the soldiers family, emotional, physical, social and spiritual health, in which gratitude is critical. It is no wonder Dr. Martin E. P. “Marty” Seligman, once president of the American Psychological Association and an avid promoter of positive psychology is key to this program. He is an advocate of practices that he calls “Gratitude Visits,” in his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. These practices include“What-Went-Well Exercises,” and “Three Blessings” exercises that help nurture well being through gratitude and brain strength.
Studies show that gratitude not only reduces mental fatigue and stress but helps in overcoming trauma. It is the reason why most Vietnam war veterans with high levels of appreciation had fewer levels of PSTD
Complain less about what you think you deserve, and cultivate a culture of appreciation for what you have now, and watch yourself soar in all aspects of your life.