Thinking about all you have in your life that you appreciate can boost happiness and your overall sense of well-being. When we are grateful, we are affirming goodness in life and we are saying life is good in many ways. It doesn’t mean life is perfect or without problems of flaws, but there is something good to recognize and to celebrate.
The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who take the time to regularly practice gratitude by noticing and reflecting upon the things they are thankful for feel more alive, experience more positive emotions, sleep better, express more kindness and compassion and even have a stronger immune system.
Sure, you might express gratitude when you get promoted at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious cup of coffee. So how can we cultivate gratitude and benefit from its positive side effects? It turns out that having a gratitude journal and writing thank-you notes are some of the best tools to boost gratitude.
Research shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal in which you regularly write short reflections of moments for which you are grateful for, can significantly increase your life satisfaction and well-being. By writing down positive things that happen to you and actively acknowledging those who have helped you, you become better at recognizing the good in your life, which naturally leads to you feeling grateful and thankful more often.
So make it a daily practice to feel and express appreciation. Sometimes we have to work harder to find the positive, but even in circumstances that are physically and / or emotionally painful often contain psycho-spiritual benefits in the form of learning, growth and healing. If we take the time and invest some energy to look closely and search consciously, we will find the positive. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how desperate or negative situations may seem.
Practicing gratitude will change your perspective and it can sweep away most of our day-today, petty annoyances. We won’t sweat the small stuff anymore and don’t have to deal with negative judgment, resentment or anger as much. We also lose feelings of impatience and intolerance. Gratitude increases feelings of well-being and prompts mindfulness.
Numerous scientific studies over the past decade have documented a wide range of benefits that come with gratitude. They are available to anyone who practices being grateful, so let’s have a look at some of the scientifically proven reasons to practice gratitude:
#1 Gratitude Facilitates Contentment
Practicing gratitude is one of the best tools to increase life satisfaction and contentment. It also improves your mood by inducing feelings of joy, pleasure, optimism, enthusiasm and many other positive emotions. On the other hand, a gratitude practice can reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
#2 Gratitude Promotes Physical Health
Research suggests that gratitude helps to strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce symptoms of illness and makes us less bothered by aches and pains.
#3 Gratitude Improves Sleep
People who practice gratitude tend to get more and better sleep and spend less time awake before falling asleep. They feel more rested when they wake up in the morning. So if you are looking to improve your sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.
#4 Gratitude Strengthens Relationships
Expressing gratitude makes us feel closer and more connected to intimate partners, friends and even people in the workplace. When we express and feel gratitude for one another, relationships become more satisfying.
#5 Gratitude Encourages ‘Pay if Forward’
Generally, people who are grateful tend to be more helpful and compassionate, which often times can spill over to others.
What are you grateful for? Test the effectiveness of a gratitude practice by tuning in to your current emotions, feelings, mood, and attitude. Once you are aware of your current state of being, take a few moments to identify 3 things or people that you are grateful for and briefly describe to yourself the reasons for your gratitude. Then notice how your emotions, feelings, mood, and attitude has shifted after this short little exercise.
Be strong when you are weak. Be brave when you are scared. Be humble when you are victorious.
Joschi & Monika