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Feeling grateful isn't just something society tells us to do when we've stopped actively being mad at someone. It's so much more than that!
Gratitude can be one of the most powerful tools in your emotional toolkit, which is why it's been a popular topic across many cultures throughout history.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can bring many benefits to our lives. Expressing gratitude and cultivating it in ourselves has been linked to increased happiness, improved physical health, greater mental well-being, higher self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
Keeping a gratitude journal or practicing gratitude regularly can help us reap the emotional and psychological benefits of this positive emotion, improving psychological health. It’s also been shown to increase overall mental health by helping us focus on the positive things in life rather than dwelling on negative emotions.
In this blog post, I'm going to discuss some of the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude and show you how using it can have positive impacts on your life – from better physical and mental health, increased energy levels, and reduced stress to improved relationships with family, friends or coworkers and even financial success.
By the end of this post, you'll realize why practicing gratitude should be part of your daily routine!
1. Gratitude makes us happier.
It's a little known fact that happiness is one of the few things in life you can grow with the right attitude.
One approach to cultivating happiness is keeping expressing your gratitude in everyday life by writing gratitude letters (that never need to be sent) to people you feel grateful for in your everyday life.
Writing about people, experiences, or moments that evoke thankfulness helps to create an overall feeling of joy and contentment; and the power of expressing gratitude should not be underestimated!
From quick “thank-you notes” to special events showering loved ones with appreciation gifts or writing full on gratitude letters, taking the time to recognize how fortunate we are in life can transform how we experience happiness each day – it just takes a bit of conscious effort.
So why delay? Break out that notebook and start gratitude journaling today– your happiness will thank you for it!
Daily gratitude does not take long.
Creating a daily gratitude habit does not take a ton of time. Simply allocating 5 minutes a day can have a large impact.
A five-minute daily gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent. That's the same impact as doubling your income!
(And if you're looking for another way to feel happier, then I also recommend exercising, specifically building a running habit.)
Learn more about expressing gratitude with journaling:
2. Gratitude makes people like us.
We’ve all heard it before: attitude is everything. While that phrase might be a bit of an optimistic outlook, research has found that this optimistic view is quite accurate. In two studies with 243 study participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital.
So having an attitude of gratitude actually makes people like us more!
Further studies have shown that expressing our gratitude not only provides us with better personal experiences, but also helps create social capital with those around us.
Being open and vocal about our appreciation stimulates prosocial behavior from those around us, further strengthening the bonds between individuals. So don’t be afraid to appreciate the small things – in doing so, you may find yourself improving your relationships significantly!
3. Gratitude makes us healthier.
We all know that physical health is important, but what is equally relevant to our well-being are the feelings we cultivate within ourselves. Recognizing the benefits of practicing gratitude can do more than just lift our spirits – research shows it helps us reach physical health milestones too.
Studies have revealed that regular displays of gratitude in our everyday life can reduce levels of cortisol released in the body, potentially reducing blood pressure and relieving chronic physical pain.
Who knew being extra thankful could enhance our physical health? It looks like there’s a lot more to gain from expressing gratitude than we might have imagined!
4. Gratitude improves career opportunity.
When it comes to the workplace, gratitude plays an important role – yet often, it gets neglected on a daily basis.
From improving career opportunity to making you a more effective manager and improving your decision-making capabilities, we should be giving gratitude more attention.
In difficult situations or even in everyday conversations with colleagues, taking a moment to thank someone can help us all to feel happier.
5. Gratitude strengthens our positive emotions.
Gratitude is like a good breakfast—it sets you up for the day.
Feeling unappreciated and overwhelmed by everyday difficulties can get us down in the dumps, but good things are always around us if we take the time to look for them. Gratitude can help bring those good things into focus and boost our spirits!
Regularly reflecting on everything from simple pleasures like sunny days or good conversations to life-altering moments of joy can help us strengthen our positive emotions and reduce our envy.
Taking gratitude breaks throughout the day helps remind us of all the good that exists around us, even when it feels like there's not a lot of good news in the world.
So, if you're feeling stressed out, try taking a few moments to count your blessings; it'll make your memories happier and let you feel good again!
How does expressing gratitude improve personality?
Practicing gratitude has the power to transform our personalities in a variety of ways. Studies by counseling psychologists show that an attitude of gratitude benefits us on multiple levels – including our personality.
Expressing appreciation for life’s blessings results in far more than just inner peace, as it benefits us in many facets of life. A little gratitude helps us develop an optimistic outlook, reduces materialism, and increases spirituality.
As we focus on the good and joyous moments from our past, we become less self-centered and better equipped to view the world around us from others’ perspectives; prosocial behavior is known to increase connectedness between people.
Not only does gratitude reduce feelings of emotional distress such as depression and anxiety, but psychologists also remark that it can lead to increased self-esteem, social engagement, and better overall well-being.
While all of these benefits of gratitude are impressive enough on their own, when taken together they form one amazing tool for developing a personality that radiates positivity!
Let's dig a bit deeper on the benefits of gratitude for improving personality:
6. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.
It's no surprise that gratitude and optimism go hand-in-hand, especially with the evidence suggesting that increasing our level of gratitude leads directly to a boost in our optimism.
For people suffering from loneliness, disappointment or negative emotions, developing a practice of gratitude can lead to swapping out these feelings for positive ones. This can help us look on life with an optimistic outlook rather than one filled with despair.
The science behind gratitude and optimism
With even just writing down one thing we're thankful for each day, we can significantly increase our happiness and improve our health – not to mention increase lifespan!
A gratitude journal is worth maintaining for this alone! You can also make journaling easier by using gratitude apps to keep track of the good things you are thankful for every day.
7. Gratitude reduces materialism.
The important role of gratitude in reducing materialism cannot be overstated. Several studies have found that gratitude reduces short term gratification and reinforces the pursuit of more meaningful goals in life.
Little gratitude, on the other hand, can cause people to become obsessed with accumulating material possessions – often masking underlying feelings of unhappiness.
Thus, people should strive to recognize the importance of expressing gratitude and take moments out of their day to appreciate all that they have achieved. Doing so will not only help them live a more satisfying life but also reduce their materialistic needs in the long run.
How EXACTLY does gratitude reduce materialism?
Materialism flows from two sources: role models and insecurity.
- Americans are constantly bombarded the materialistic ideal that money brings success. This notion is perpetuated by advertisements, celebrity culture, and business standards for achieving our dreams. Gratitude can be a powerful tool to help diminish feelings of comparison or envy towards these materialist “role models”.
- Those with unmet psychological needs, such as lack of confidence or having had difficult upbringings, can be more likely to become materialistic. Fortunately for them – and everyone else too! – cultivating gratitude is a great way to break the cycle: perceiving benevolence triggers an emotional response that fosters feelings of security rather than insecurity and consumerism. Being grateful gives us a sense of being enveloped in kindness from our environment which diminishes any underlying fear we may experience otherwise.
8. Gratitude increases spiritualism.
One benefit of regularly practicing gratitude is that it can lead to improved life satisfaction and even spiritual transcendence.
Studies have found that those who are more spiritually enlightened are more likely to exhibit feelings of gratitude; conversely, being grateful can bring a person closer to their religious beliefs.
There are two reasons for this spiritual | gratitude connection:
This might be because those who practice spirituality and have strong religious ties possess many of the same traits associated with an attitude of thankfulness – such as having a strong sense of connection with others, and understanding that we all rely on one another in some capacity.
As such, cultivating an appreciation for life's blessings can help us view ourselves, and our world, through a lens of interconnections. Ultimately, this could lead to greater personal fulfillment and peace.
9. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.
I'll be totally honest, I used to be a self-centered twat – until I started to practice gratitude.
Studies have shown that cultivating an attitude of gratitude can make us less self-centered and more open to others, and my own experience certainly supports this.
When we focus on the benefits of gratitude – for example Robert Emmons' ‘Three Good Things’ exercise – we direct our attention away from ourselves and towards others, as well as the realization that we aren't the only ones who deserve recognition.
Gratitude practice can be far more beneficial than self-esteem therapy; while self-esteem therapy may give us a confidence boost in the short term, in the long term it can actually make us more narcissistic or damage our self-esteem.
But with gratitude practice, there are no such risks – the effects are always positive.
10. Gratitude increases self-esteem.
When it comes to matters of self-esteem, daily mantras just don't always cut it!
Nothing works better than knowing that your peers are not only interested in helping you out, but also doing so out of genuine goodness and care for your well-being.
Gratitude is the emotion that encompasses this feeling, and when developed daily can lead to a positive outlook on life. As a result, countless acts of kindness are done daily that helps bridge divides between people and increase everyone's self-esteem.
So let's foster a world where gratitude increases self-esteem!
Gratitude creates a more supportive social dynamic in three ways:
- Expressing gratitude is a powerful tool that can open up unexpected opportunities. Research has proven it not only strengthens relationships and helps spread good vibes, but also increases one's social capital – making them more likely to be helped by others simply because they're liked and appreciated.
- Gratitude increases your recognition of benevolence. For example, a person with low self-esteem may view an act of kindness with a skeptical eye, thinking that the benefactor is trying to get something from them. A grateful person would take the kindness at face value, believing themselves to be a person worthy of receiving no-strings-attached kindness.
- Practicing gratitude makes you feel better about yourself. Chances are good that you do not do good things simply because it makes you feel good about yourself. But it is a nice side effect. Coupling gratitude with things like positive mantras will help to increase your confidence even more.
How does gratitude affect health?
Research shows that cultivating gratitude can have many amazing health benefits; not only can you expect to be feeling more relaxed and calmer, but you might also find yourself living a healthier life.
For starters, grateful people tend to get better quality of sleep, which is incredibly important for health maintenance. On top of that, gratitude has been associated with overall increased health and vitality. Studies suggest that people who experience and express gratitude may even live longer lives!
In this section we will take a deep dive into the health benefits of gratitude, including: sleep, general health, longer life, increased energy and improved exercise.
11. Gratitude improves your sleep.
If a good night's sleep is what you're after, it might be time to consider pursuing gratitude like a health practice designed to improve your sleep.
Research has shown significant health benefits of gratitude practice: improved sleep quality, increased sleep duration and even relief from chronic pain. So if counting sheep isn't doing the trick and you find yourself tossing and turning at night, give gratitude a try.
One study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition showed those assigned a daily gratitude journal to complete before bed got half an hour more shut-eye than those who didn't! Who knew that the key to better health could be as simple as counting your blessings?
In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep.
The reason grateful people sleep better is not that their life was simply better – levels of gratitude are more dependent on personality and life perspective than on life situations.
12. Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor.
Gratitude can't cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning.
Positive emotions improves health. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. This fact comes from 137 research studies.
Gratitude is a positive emotion.
Practicing gratitude has been much-touted as a method of improving our health and science appears to have the figures to back it up.
Recent studies have revealed that those who are thankful for all they have can enjoy reduced pain, lower blood pressure, less doctor visits – even fewer mental health woes – than the ingrates among us (just kidding!).
Studies about health show grateful people have:
Why Gratitude Impacts Health:
13. Gratitude lets you live longer.
I know what you're thinking: longer life, better care, and all the other good stuff that comes with having gratitude? It sounds too good to be true.
Well, the connection between longer life and gratitude is still yet to be proven in a study deep enough (and over long enough time frame) to make a statement with 100% certainty.
But here's is what we do know for sure; a recent study has linked optimistic people with longer lives which calls for high expectations when it comes to the link between gratitude and longer lifespans.
With evidence of improved well being, better physical health and a strengthened immune system, it's safe to say that practicing gratitude in your day-to-day life may lead to you living a longer, healthier one.
We also know that expressing gratitude is strongly correlated with positive emotions like optimism.
So, gratitude –> optimism –> an extra few months or years on earth.
With positive psychology research, such as the work of Robert Emmons, on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years with some longer life length studies.
14. Gratitude increases your energy levels.
What's the secret for increased energy and vitality? According to experts, it turns out that gratitude may be the answer.
It seems like increased gratitude correlates with increased physical and mental vigor – so perhaps having a thankful spirit can boost your energy levels. Whether its giving thanks every day or simply counting your blessings, expressing gratitude might just be the key to achieving greater positive energy. Who knew?
But do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude, does gratitude lead to increased energy, or is something else going on?
Admittedly this is a bit of the chicken and egg scenario.
Do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude? Does gratitude lead to increased energy? Or is something else going on? Could it simply be that people with more energy also tend to be the same people who invest time with practicing gratitude.
Let's look at the research on gratitude and increased energy:
- Study of 238 people found a correlation of .46 between vitality and gratitude.
- A study of 1662 people found a correlation of .38 between vitality and gratitude.
- The same study found correlations above .3 even after controlling for the levels of extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and perceived social desirability. This means that vitality and gratitude are strongly correlated even after considering the possibility that they are correlated because many high-energy people and high-gratitude people share personality traits like extroversion in common.
My belief is that it's two of those three:
- People with high levels of vitality tend to have some of the same traits that highly grateful people do, like high levels of optimism and life satisfaction.
- Gratitude increases physical and mental well-being, which in turn increases energy levels.
15. Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise.
Looking for a way to stick to daily exercise? One of the simplest methods you can use is to apply some psychological principles that are backed by research.
For instance, regularly practicing gratitude has been found to boost our daily motivation to get physical and make us more likely to exercise. In one 11-week study involving 96 Americans, it was discovered that those who kept a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more than those in the control group.
Next time you feel your daily life getting too mundane, try expressing your daily thankfulness; not only will it lift your spirits, but it could also lead to better physical health!
[Sidebar: As a reminder, if you'd like to build the gratitude journal habit, then this journal can help.]
16. Gratitude strengthens your immune system
There is not one medicine you can buy at the store that has as many benefits as gratitude.
Practicing gratitude on a regular basis may be enough to keep you healthy and safe from illness. When we focus on being thankful for what we have, our immune system is strengthened and this helps us fight off any foreign invaders that try to attack our body.
Many studies have proven this to be true (Sood, 2009; Emmons, 2010). So next time you feel yourself starting to get sick, before you reach for the pills and potions, why not try some positive thinking first? It could make all the difference.
How does gratitude affect emotions?
Gratitude is more than just lip service – it's a powerful tool to create more positive emotions.
Studies in social psychology have demonstrated the emotional benefits of participating in a regular gratitude practice, whether that's writing gratitude letters or simply taking a pause throughout the day to appreciate what we do have.
There's no denying the fact that when we take the time to express gratitude, our emotions become more balanced and life becomes more manageable.
In the following paragraphs we will take a deep dive into the interconnections between gratitude and our emotions and how it can lead to improved psychological health.
We shall look at how gratitude increases resilience and good feelings. How positively colors memories. And how the practice of gratitude reduces envy and helps us relax.
Let's dig deeper into how regularly practicing gratitude impacts these emotions…
17. Gratitude helps us bounce back.
We all get “down” at times. Depression. Anxiety. Loneliness. It happens to us all.
Gratitude is not going to make you magically “immune” to these negative emotions. They are a part of life's experience. However, people who express gratitude are more resilient.
Expressing gratitude is not simply an attitude adjustment; it has real, lasting effects on your mental health and ability to cope with difficult times.
Those who are more grateful have a better-developed skillset for bouncing back from negative emotions such as depression, anxiety or loneliness much quicker than those without the same level of appreciation.
Expressing gratitude helps us build resilience by making us less likely to develop PTSD symptoms when confronted with stressful situations while also helping people seek out essential social support during trying moments in life.
18. Gratitude makes us feel good.
Surprise, surprise: gratitude actually feels good!
Yet only 20% of Americans rate gratitude as a positive and constructive emotion, compared to the much more impressive 50% of Europeans.
According to Robert Emmons, gratitude researcher extraordinaire, it is essentially our way of recognizing that the happiness we feel was caused by another's kindness. In short, gratitude is happiness in and of itself – no miracle required.
Still think expressing and feeling grateful makes you weak? F&ck no it doesn't.
Gratitude may get underestimated but the benefits it can offer are tremendous; from being healthier and happier to even having greater success – there's hardly anything better this emotion can bring us!
19. Gratitude give us happier memories.
Our memories are not set in stone, like data stored on a hard-drive.
There are innumerable ways our memories can be fallible, from falsely recollecting experiences as being worse than they were, shorter or longer in length, people as being more benevolent or harsher than they actually were, and so on.
Experiencing moments of gratitude – even in passing – can rewire our memories to focus on the positives of a situation.
Research has found that while in a grateful state we are more apt to transform neutral and even negative memories into something uplifting. For example, in one study participants with unfinished memories were more likely to remember the promising elements of those experiences rather than just the gloomy ones.
So next time your past comes back to haunt you, take some solace in knowing that thanks to gratitude you can look at it with sunnier disposition!
Why does this memory work like this? The reason why is called cognitive bias.
Check out this blog post to find out more about cognitive bias.
Alternatively, if you want a real deep dive on how memory and cognitive bias work there are two great books on the subject: Thinking, Fast and Slow (written by the founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman), and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).
20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.
It's not hard to feel some envy when comparing our successes to those of others. But wallowing in it can do little more than stunt our resolve and put us on a one-way path to misanthropy.
Fortunately, the antidote exists in the form of gratitude. When we take stock of what we have, whether it be material or not, it reminds us pf everything we have actually achieved and spurs us on rather than discouraging us.
Gratitude can also help quell jealousy by shifting our perspective away from what others might have and onto what we already enjoy. In short, a pinch of envy is great for motivation but an overdose isn't; better to combat your feelings with some appreciation and admiration!
21. Gratitude helps us relax.
Gratitude and positive emotion, in general, are among the strongest relaxants known to man.
I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn't relax. I'll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard!
In this case, too hard – I ended up getting out of bed.
Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique.
Think of it like tea – one or two cups help you relax – three of four make you want to empty your bladder. But it could just be me. Perhaps you'll find practices of gratitude more natural and easy.
22. Gratitude makes you friendlier.
Being thankful for the things we have isn't just a great way to feel more positive—it can also make us more pleasant to be around!
Research has demonstrated that having an attitude of gratitude makes people more likely to lend a helping hand, both when it comes to dealing with problems and providing moral support.
So if you want to be more fun at parties, start writing your start writing your thank you notes!!
Why is this true?
There are two main reasons gratitude makes people friendlier:
- Gratitude helps us perceive kindness, which we have a natural tendency to want to reciprocate. Without the feeling of gratitude, we may not recognize when someone is helping us (the same way anger lets us know when someone is trying to harm us).
- Gratitude makes us happier and more energetic, both of which are highly linked to pro-social behavior.
23. Gratitude helps your marriage.
It is no secret that marriages require regular maintenance, but many don't realize that an important ingredient in marital success is gratitude and appreciation.
Scientists have studied the impact of positive interactions in relationships and coined it the Losada ratio.
This theory suggests that if there are more negative than positive expressions exchanged during a typical interaction, those relationships suffer. In fact, those marriages which are least likely to plummet towards divorce or languishment have a positivity ratio of at least 5.1.
Thus, couples should be actively mindful about their words and actions and strive daily to increase the Losada ratio for a healthy, thriving marriage, by showing gratitude and positivity to their spouse.
24. Gratitude makes you look good.
Showing gratitude can make you look good in more ways than one.
Whether it’s verbalized or acted out, being thankful is a sure-fire way to radiate positive vibes and garner respect from those around you. After all, nobody likes a grumpy, unappreciative sourpuss – so if you want to appear attractive and likable, then show your appreciation! It may not be the ~hottest~ trait, but it definitely has its golden merits.
25. Gratitude helps you make friends.
Gratitude really is like a magnet for meaningful relationships.
Studies show that when we invest some extra effort into expressing our appreciation, it's only natural that those with similar values will come our way!
Genuine gratitude attracts people with an appreciative mindset – that's one of the greatest benefits you can get out of this habit. After all, who doesn't enjoy feeling appreciated? Not to mention, it feels pretty good to make new pals too!
26. Gratitude deepens existing friendships.
A little bit of appreciation goes a long way towards improving relationships with friends, just like expressing gratitude can make romantic relationships grow stronger.
Imagine how great it would feel if you expressed gratitude to your friends for all the laughs and support they’ve given you over the years – it could open up conversations like never before!
As science suggests (Lambert & Fincham, 2011, pp. 50-60), expressions of thankfulness make space for more comfortable communication which lays down the foundation blocks for resolving possible issues.
So if you want to extend your friendship the extra mile (wherever those miles may take you), don’t forget to occasionally tell your pals what they mean to you – they deserve nothing less!
27. Gratitude makes you a more effective manager.
As any effective manager knows, it takes a certain finesse to get the most out of a team. A sharp tongue and critical eye can be helpful in keeping everyone inline, but don't underestimate the power of professing gratitude and giving praise.
Recent studies have actually found that expressions of gratitude are more likely to influence behavior than criticism. And in an unexpected twist, managers who repeat their praise don't run the risk of it becoming too rote; positive reinforcement done properly will continue to drive performance higher.
So if you want your team to start producing double-worthy efforts, make sure you show them some appreciation!
28. Gratitude helps you network.
Gratitude is the magical ingredient that helps you build your network. Numerous studies point to increases in social behaviors as a result of gratitude, and two longitudinal experiments revealed that those with higher levels of it were more likely to develop robust social capital.
But what does that mean for networking?
It means that gratitude can help you turn acquaintances into mentors, proteges, and benefactors – no small feat!
Being grateful makes others more likely to extend their help towards you, making mentorships easier to find and maintain. We know how advantageous having mentors can be for professional success – which only further emphasizes why gratitude should be front and center when engaging with others.
29. Gratitude increases your goal achievement.
It looks like you better be thanking your lucky stars, because gratitude is said to help you reach those lofty goals you've been staring up at.
In a study, some participants were encouraged to keep a daily journal of gratitude while they strived towards their goals. Lo and behold, they reported making more progress than the unlucky control group at the end of it all!
So take it from us – if your goal achievement is flagging, don't pop open those beers just yet – open that notepad instead, and write down a few things you're grateful for. Who knows where it might lead?
30. Gratitude improves your decision making.
If you're an indecisive person, you already know that decision making can be daunting. Not only do indecisive types overthink every single decision, but often times they grapple with the fact that their choices don't have clear-cut solutions.
However, science has shown us one weapon to help lessen indecisive minds: gratitude. Research suggests that taking a moment to thank yourself before making a choice profoundly improves your decision making since it allows your brain to take in more information rather than obsessing over minor details.
So the next time you find yourself struggling with indecision, take a breath and remember what you are thankful for – it might just lead you to the right choice!
31. Gratitude increases your productivity.
It stands to reason that being confident leads to increased productivity—after all, with worries out of the way, you're free to be more focused on the task at hand. But what if we could actually use something like gratitude to make us more productive?
Psychologists have found answers: by showing us how gratitude increases self-esteem and reduces insecurity, effectively allowing us to direct better focus towards our work! So next time you want to power up your productivity levels, be thankful—it's science!
A Final Word on the Benefits of Gratitude
Now that we have seen the significant advantages that come with practicing gratitude, it is time to take what we’ve learned and start implementing it into our daily lives.
Whether you choose to take a few moments to reflect on something you are grateful for before heading out the door every morning or end your day by jotting down five things you are thankful for in a journal, incorporating gratitude into your life can help lead to a happier, healthier and more successful version of yourself.
Furthermore, allowing yourself the opportunity to be grateful can foster increased self-esteem that ultimately directs us away from negative thought cycles and towards positivity.
As you can see from these 31 benefits of gratitude, there are many selfish reasons to express gratitude in addition to the common altruistic ideals that may spring to mind. So put your best foot forward – try taking some steps towards expressing gratitude today!