With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many of us are looking forward to a long weekend full of family, friends, delicious food, and maybe a football game or two. Everyone has different traditions surrounding this time of year, but a common theme that many share is gratitude. In this article, we’ll take a look at what gratitude is and its benefits – and we think some will surprise you!
What Is Gratitude?
It’s always interesting to take a closer look at the definitions of common words and concepts, because you never know what insights you might find. In the dictionary, gratitude is defined as: “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Gratitude is inextricably linked with both giving and receiving kindness, which is especially important in our world right now. Virtually without fail, it can lift hearts, brighten days, and make your world a better place.
The Benefits of Gratitude
There are so many benefits of gratitude that we couldn’t cover them all in this article, but we did pick five of our favorites. By cultivating a habit of thankfulness in your own life, you’ll see many of these benefits and a plethora of others as well!
Gratitude Boosts Your Mental Health – Bigtime!
Anger, envy, regret, frustration – nobody likes to experience these negative emotions, and while they’re often just a part of life, they can sometimes spiral into depression and anxiety. While there’s no magic pill for curing these issues, gratitude can do a lot to help combat them – and powerfully. Studies show that gratitude increases happiness and well-being, and it can also boost our self-esteem. It also reduces aggression and increases your empathy and consideration for others.
Being Grateful Has Physical Benefits
Scientists have discovered that grateful people report fewer aches and pains overall, and that they feel generally healthier. Interestingly enough, they also tend to take better care of their bodies, including keeping regular doctor visits, steering clear of harmful substances, and exercising regularly. In one study, participants were asked to keep a gratitude journal of things they were thankful for every day. This simple thing led to better and longer sleep, lower blood pressure, and increased overall well-being.
Grateful People Enjoy More And Better Relationships
Generally, gratitude is one of the traits that is the most highly valued in our society, even though we don’t necessarily say so out loud. People are drawn to others who are thankful because they also tend to be more cheerful, physically and mentally healthy, and kind. Unsurprisingly, grateful people tend to enjoy better friendships and romantic relationships, and they also tend to be longer lasting. People who report feeling more grateful also report having more social support, which helps them weather times of stress better.
Grateful People Recover Better From Setbacks
Grateful people have trials and struggles just like everyone, but they tend to recover better from setbacks, both big and small. For example, one 2003 study showed that people involved in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center displayed greater emotional and mental resilience if they also reported higher levels of gratitude. As a whole, thankful people are more optimistic and hopeful, which contributes to their ability to “bounce back.”
Gratitude Makes For A Better Work Environment
The more gratitude is generally shown in a work environment, the better it is for everyone involved! Gratitude can help us find meaning in our work, and it reduces stress and anxiety associated with our jobs. A grateful person also makes for a better manager, which reduces turnover.
Like other virtues, gratitude takes practice to acquire. But it might be a great goal to set as Thanksgiving and the other end-of-year holidays are approaching. How has being grateful helped you in your life? Do you have any tips on how to be more thankful? Leave a comment below!