As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches many of us reflect on the blessings of the year. We express gratitude for the people in our lives, the accomplishments of the year and often spend time with friends or family sharing in our thanksgiving. Research on gratitude has demonstrated that cultivating gratitude all year long is actually good for your health and wellbeing.
- Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. Research into gratitude shows an association with greater happiness.
- Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
This year has brought great change and magnificent opportunities.
- I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with you through technology.
- I am grateful for the chance to live the dream of owning a farm while exploring other professional endeavors.
- I am grateful for my son Kyle and his sweet Allison, my husband Stowe, our families, special friends and colleagues…Blessings abound!
Take time this month and begin a gratitude journal. Title the page “I am grateful for…” and each day write down 3 things that you were grateful that day. Remain grateful all year long.
To help get you in the spirit of gratefulness, I’m sharing an excerpt from Amy Morin, Forbes contributor who compiled information discussed in the literature about gratitude.
- Opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2104 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or you send a quick thank-you note to that co-worker who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
- Improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
- Improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
- Improves sleep. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
- Improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
- Increases mental strength. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.