Why Practice Gratitude?
Recently, I came across a fantastic article articulating the top research-based reasons for practicing gratitude. Did you know that over the past decade, hundreds of studies have documented the social, physical, and psychological benefits of gratitude? Cool, right?
An added Silver Lining is that these benefits are available to most anyone who practices gratitude, even in the midst of adversity. Don’t I know it? One of the most beautiful things about finding Silver Linings is that they are always there. All we have to do is look for them. Wherever we are. Whatever is happening.
Here are some of the top research-based reasons for practicing gratitude.
- Gratitude brings us happiness: Through research by Robert Emmons (perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude), happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, and many other scientists, practicing gratitude has proven to be one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness and life satisfaction; it also boosts feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions.
- On the flip side, gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression.
- Gratitude is good for our bodies: Studies by Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough suggest gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and makes us less bothered by aches and pains. It also encourages us to exercise more and take better care of our health.
- Grateful people sleep better: They get more hours of sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more refreshed upon awakening. If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.
- Gratitude makes us more resilient: It has been found to help people recover from traumatic events, including Vietnam War veterans with PTSD.
- Gratitude strengthens relationships: It makes us feel closer and more committed to friends and romantic partners. When partners feel and express gratitude for each other, they each become more satisfied with their relationship. Gratitude may also encourage a more equitable division of labor between partners.
- Gratitude promotes forgiveness—even between ex-spouses after a divorce.
- Gratitude makes us “pay it forward”: Grateful people are more helpful, altruistic, and compassionate.
- Gratitude is good for kids: When 10-19 year olds practice gratitude, they report greater life satisfaction and more positive emotion, and they feel more connected to their community.
- Gratitude is good for schools: Studies suggest it makes students feel better about their school; it also makes teachers feel more satisfied and accomplished, and less emotionally exhausted, possibly reducing teacher burnout.
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how to cultivate gratitude. There are indeed tools that can help! In the meantime, please know how grateful I am for each and every one of you dear readers!