The notion of practicing daily gratitude exercises or learning to express more appreciation for the positive things in your life has gained a lot of attention over the past five years in the literature of positive psychology. But what good is focusing on gratitude anyway? Does it really make a difference in your life how you think? As it turns out, yes, it makes a significant difference, and researchers are learning more all the time about the impact that gratitude can have on your overall happiness and well-being.
Giving thanks for the positives in your life is not just something you should do once a year before you carve the turkey. Engaging in habits that help you focus on your gratitude and give thanks for your life can actually improve your life and transform your health. Here is how.
1. Practicing gratitude can make you healthier.
When it comes to your health, you can improve your physical well-being when you think more optimistically and express your gratitude more. When you are more grateful, you are also more likely to take better care of yourself, to engage in healthy behaviors, and to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to remain healthy. Being appreciative for what your body allows you to do means you are more likely to take care of yourself, leading to improved health overall.
2. You will have higher self-esteem when you practice gratitude.
When you focus on your blessings and gifts in life, you are more likely to compare yourself less to others, which can leave you feeling better about yourself. Being grateful also keeps you focused on what you have and can do, which makes you feel more positive about your abilities, raising your self-esteem. When you have gratitude for your life, you are less likely to resent others for their accomplishments or possessions, as well.
3. Gratitude improves your relationships.
Showing appreciation in your life extends to those with whom you share it, and when you show your gratitude toward others, they are more likely to feel more positively toward you, too. Being grateful makes it more likely that new relationships will solidify and become stronger and that older relationships will become more valued in your life. Simple acts of acknowledging your appreciation for others, including strangers, helps you feel more positive in general toward other people, too.
4. Your mental health will improve with gratitude.
When you focus on positive aspects of your life, you spend less time thinking about regrets, negative emotions, or frustrations. A mindset of appreciation allows you to stay positive and release toxic feelings that are holding you back from enjoying true happiness. Those who express more gratitude are less likely to feel depressed or anxious, as well.
5. Gratitude improves your resiliency.
When you focus on gratitude, you are more likely to rebound from stress and setbacks in your life. In fact, having a mindset of appreciation can even help you overcome significant trauma. When you are grateful for what you have, you are more likely to be resilient to those negative things that happen, because you see that you have many positive things already in your life.
The research on the impact of gratitude on your mental and physical health continues to grow. What we know is that having an attitude of appreciation will help you live longer, be healthier, and stay happier. We each have the choice to focus on gratitude or more negative emotions, and it is what you do with that choice that will make the difference in your life. Why not try a daily gratitude exercise to see what a difference this positive mindset can make for you?