The Power of Gratitude: How Giving Thanks Can Make Us Happier
As we settle into the season of Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that giving gratitude throughout the year has enormous benefits for our overall well-being.
Being grateful doesn’t take much energy or time out of your day which makes it an accessible tool for everyone. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a try. Research shows the health benefits of being grateful include:
- Better relationships – Expressing gratitude makes you less aggressive and enhances your empathy. This leads to more pro-social behaviour and more sensitivity towards others which improves all the relationships in your life (familial, romantic, friendship, etc.).
- Physical and mental health – Grateful people tend to take better care of their health and are less prone to common aches and pains. Research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. It also aids in recovery from substance misuse and coronary health events.
- Improved sleep – According to research, spending just 15 minutes a night writing in a gratitude journal reduces blood pressure and enhances the duration and quality of sleep.
- Increased self-esteem – Gratitude can help you feel better about your circumstances and less resentful of others which can lead to feeling better about yourself.
Now that the extraordinary benefits are clear, how can we get the best results from practicing gratitude? Follow these simple steps:
- Write it down – Don’t just say it in your head, the physical record is important so you can continue to reflect. It can be anything from something major that happened or even a small win (example: The colour of the sky during my morning nature walk!).
- Be specific – This is the key to gratitude! To be effective, it must be specific. Think of WHY you are grateful for a person, gesture or event that happened. Going into detail about one particular thing you are grateful for is more effective than mentioning a general list of many things.
- Make it a daily habit – Commit to a small amount of time spent on this practice every day, even when you are busy (that is when it is most important!). Habits are important to building a healthy routine and getting the most benefits of your time spent in gratitude.
Resources & Recommendations:
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin
5 Minute Journal
Photo credits: @davidsonphotography.inc