Over the past decade, there has been an abundance of research showing how powerful gratitude and thankfulness are when it comes to an individual's health. Studies from Harvard, Berkley, and NCBI all show links between gratitude and decreased stress, better sleep, and increased life satisfaction.
1. Gratitude Helps Decrease Overall Bodily Pain
According to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences, people who make gratitude an important part of their lives experience fewer aches and pains. People who prioritized gratitude also reported to included healthy habits in their daily life, such as exercising and eating nourishing food. Those who are thankful for their health are also more inclined to take care of their bodies on a long term basis.
2. Gratitude Helps Improve Psychological Health
Gratitude is the antidote to negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, greed, and regret. Research shows that gratitude is linked to a reduction in depression. Many who practice gratitude also incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives, which is the state of being aware of the present moment, free of judgment or interpretation. Gratitude paired with mindfulness can be a great tool to reduce feelings of anxiousness and sadness and encourage positive emotions, like hope and satisfaction.
Gratitude Increases Self Esteem, Mental Stamina and Resilience
For years, research has shown us that gratitude not only reduces stress, but it also empowers individuals to overcome and bounce back from trauma. For example, a study conducted on war veterans showed that veterans full of gratitude for life experienced lower PTSD rates following combat. Another study performed post 9/11 revealed that individuals who focused on maintaining positive and grateful had more resilience and reported growth during such a trial.
Practical Steps Towards Gratitude:
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Keeping a daily gratitude journal by writing down five things you are thankful for every day is a free, easy, and effective way to re-train your brain towards more positive, grateful thinking. Try keeping a journal next to your bed and writing a quick list either first thing in the morning or right before you go to sleep.
Intentionally Tell Your Friends and Family that You Are Thankful For Them
Many people tell their family and friends, "I love you," but how often are we genuinely expressing our full appreciation for our relationships? While life can often feel overwhelming with work, responsibilities, and other performance-based activities, it's important to remember that relationships are indeed one of the most important aspects of life. By sending an, "I'm thankful for you" text to a friend, or sending a relative a gift in the mail - taking time to focus on being a shining light in the lives of others will, in turn, make us even happier. By focusing on these valuable relationships, we are reminded of how we truly should be thankful.
Aim to Replace Negative Thoughts With Positive Thoughts
Some examples of replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts can be seen in the following examples:
Negative: There is just no way that this will work.
Positive: I can and will give it my all in an attempt to make it work.
Negative: I am overweight, and it is useless to try to get healthy.
Positive: I can become healthy because I am choosing to have what it takes to succeed and reach my goals.
Try it: Try observing your thoughts more this week, and when a negative thought arises, write it down and also write a positive, opposite belief to counteract the negativity. Focus on this new, positive belief until it replaces the old, negative belief.
By incorporating this thought method, you will be working towards a positive, more gratitude-fill way of life.