Want to know a secret to increased happiness, better health, deeper relationships, and increased productivity?
It’s GRATITUDE! Gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools for increasing happiness. Research shows it is the single most powerful method of increasing happiness.
So, what is gratitude?
Gratitude is simply taking time to think about all the positive things in your life. Rather than ruminating on the negatives.
Gratitude changes us. When we are thankful, our cells respond. Study after study has shown that people who are actively thankful are happier and healthier than their complaining counterparts. It has also been shown that practicing gratitude reduces blood pressure and lowers our stress and cortisol levels. When we are grateful, our brain is also flooded with a “feel good” chemical called dopamine, which affects our moods, sleep patterns, memory, focus, and more!
But as easy as this sounds, gratitude takes practice and intention. The good news is you can build your gratitude “muscle!” So, if you’re having trouble feeling grateful, don’t despair! Gratitude isn’t purely hard-wired, and there are things you can do to bring more gratitude into your life like gratitude journaling or simply taking a moment out of your day to think about something you are thankful for!
What exactly are the proven benefits of gratitude?
While there are MANY more, here are 7 Science-backed benefits of Gratitude you can count on.
#1 Gratitude can bring you closer to the ones you love the most.
The people closest to us often see us at our worst because we know they will take our venting at the end of a stressful day or our frustrations when things aren’t going our way. But what if you focused on telling those people about the best parts of your day, instead of dishing out the worst moments of the day? Studies have shown that people who express the most gratitude for the good times experience greater happiness in their relationships in the short term and in the long term.
#2 Gratitude has been proven to improve health and immunity.
A group of people with the same health condition was split into thirds. Researchers gave gratitude exercises to one third of the participants, one third frustration exercises, and the final third no exercises. The group expressing their gratitude improved their health. The grateful group reported feeling better, experiencing less symptoms, exercising more, and having increased energy levels when compared to their grumbling, grouchy counterparts.
#3 Gratitude has been shown to improve mental health and wellness.
Gratitude reduces feelings of toxic emotions like envy and regret. Multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being show gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. While not a cure for mental health struggles, adding gratitude to your daily routine is worth the 10 to 25% happiness boost you’ll feel.
#4 Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
Grateful people are more willing to help others, both people they have had positive or negative interactions and strangers according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Participants who practiced gratitude regularly were less likely to retaliate against others, even after a negative interaction. They felt more compassion and empathy toward others and less vengeful feelings.
#5 Grateful people sleep better!
People who spend 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed sleep better and longer than they had previously! Keeping a gratitude journal by your bed to jot down everything you are grateful for that day seems a small price to pay for better and deeper sleep.
#6 People who practice gratitude regularly have a higher sense of self-esteem.
The bonus of increased self-esteem is a reduction in social comparison and resentment. Grateful people can cheer on their friends without jealousy.
#7 Gratitude increases mental strength.
For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but may also help people overcome traumatic events. Veterans who practice gratitude experience less PTSD symptoms and greater resilience to trauma than their peers.
There is no downside to bringing gratitude into your life. It costs you nothing but is worth everything. The age old and trite trope is true, money doesn’t buy happiness, but gratitude does. Make gratitude a daily ritual for your family, watch your relationships deepen and the happiness grow by 10 to 25%!
At BeBalanced, we believe that holistic health is about so much more than weight loss. It’s about caring for your body, mind, and spirit from the inside out. That’s why our program not only focuses on the fuel you feed your body but also on relaxation, stress management, and self-care.
To learn more about what we do, schedule your free consultation at any of our centers nation-wide.
On last thought on how the power of positivity and gratitude…
Japanese Scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, postulated that water reacts to human emotions. In his famous water experiment, he exposed water to positive and negative emotions, and then froze it under a microscope. The water exposed to concepts like hope, love, and gratitude formed beautiful and intricate crystals. When the water was exposed to negative emotions like violence and hate, chaotic, irregular crystals formed. He hypothesized that our cells and the water in our bodies respond the same way, becoming healthier and organized when exposed to positive emotion and becoming less healthy and irregular when exposed to negative emotion. While not a proven fact, we all know the saying “you get out of it, what you put into it.” Your self-talk and emotions matter.
See the following water crystal photographs from Dr. Emoto’s work. Each water crystal you see was exposed to the word it has written next to it prior to being photographed: