Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s the time of year when we think about all we are grateful for. The Thanksgiving season is a great time to reflect on the abundance of blessings we have in our lives; focusing on what we have, rather than what we lack, but there are many benefits to having an “attitude of gratitude” all year long.
Here are six benefits of gratitude you may not have considered:
1. Gratitude opens our heart to others and helps us connect with them. According to a 2014 study published in Emotion, showing gratitude to new acquaintances—sending a thank-you note, acknowledging other’s contributions, etc—makes them more likely to seek out an ongoing friendship or relationship with you.
2. Gratitude improves your psychological health. Being thankful helps reduce toxic emotions such as anger, frustration, and resentment. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., leading gratitude researcher confirms that having gratitude will increase happiness and reduce depression.
3. Gratitude reduces stress and helps overcome trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans who had higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of PTSD. An earlier study published in 2003 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to people’s resilience following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
4. Gratitude improves physical health. People who are thankful experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling generally better and healthier, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. People who are grateful are also more likely to take care of their own health by exercising more regularly and keeping up with regular check-ups.
5. Grateful people sleep better. Taking time to write what you’re thankful for in a journal may help you sleep better and longer, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.
6. Gratitude boosts self-esteem. People who are thankful for what they have and who appreciate other people’s accomplishments spend less time comparing themselves to others and have higher self-esteem, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.
Did you know we can only keep one thought or emotion alive in our minds at a time? Why not make it gratitude?