“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
While we strive to be thankful year round, Thanksgiving is a special time of year that is set aside to reflect on our lives in gratitude. More than just making you happier, being grateful is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Learn more about the benefits of being thankful and practical ways to incorporate more gratitude into your daily life.
4 Health Benefits of Gratitude
Cultivating gratitude in your life is a simple way to drastically improve your health. Studies have shown that living more thankful can build stronger relationships and have a positive impact on mental and physical health.
1. Thankfulness leads to relationships
A 2014 study published in Emotion found that thanking new acquaintances is more than just polite – it can actually make them more likely to seek an ongoing friendship.
2. Being grateful can lead to feeling healthier
A 2012 study in Personality and Individual Differences found that people who were more grateful reported feeling healthier than those less thankful, and even reported feeling fewer aches and pains. Grateful people are also more likely to manage routine health, attend regular check-ups with doctors and exercise more – both of which can increase longevity.
3. Thankfulness can improve psychological health and improve mental toughness
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., is a leading gratitude researcher and has found that gratitude can increase happiness, reduce feelings of depression and even reduce negative emotions like envy and regret. Additionally, gratitude can help people overcome trauma and PTSD. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans who reported higher levels of gratitude also experienced lower rates of PTSD. Additionally, a 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major factor in resiliency following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
4. Gratitude can improve sleep habits
According to a 2011 study in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, writing in a gratitude journal can improve sleep. The study found that participants who wrote in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes before falling asleep helped them worry less at bedtime and sleep longer and better.
15 Tips for Practicing Gratitude
1. Write in a gratitude journal daily
2. Thank at least one person every day
3. Replace “sorry” with “thank you” (i.e. “thank you for waiting for me” instead of “sorry I am late”)
4. Call someone to say “thank you”
5. Write a thank you note
6. Volunteer to help advance a cause that you care about
7. Make a meal for a friend or neighbor
8. Don’t participate in gossip about others
9. Give compliments freely
10. Memorize a quote about gratitude each month and meditate on it daily
11. Notice the good in other people
12. Focus on your own strengths and the strengths of others
13. Don’t run from challenges but see them as an opportunity to grow
14. Look for ways to perform random acts of kindness
15. Learn from your mistakes
How do you practice gratitude in your life? Share your tips with us in the comments below.