Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude

Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude

There have been many studies done on the benefits of gratitude on physical, psychological, and emotional health, which have pointed to immediate and ongoing benefits of gratitude.  If you have yet to begin your own gratitude practice, take a look at the findings below and, with some instructions on creating a gratitude practice of your own.

1.Gratitude will make you healthier.

Grateful people have fewer aches and pains and they say they feel healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.  Grateful people are also more likely to attend to their own health and take good care of themselves by exercising, getting regular check-ups. Probably because they enjoy their lives and want to protect themselves, and also because, if they’re experience is like mine, the practice of gratitude and being content in their lives leaves them with more energy for such things.

2.Gratitude improves psychological health.

Gratitude actually has the effect of reducing toxic emotions like envy and resentment and frustration. It’s like an alka-seltzer for your emotions! Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. is a leading researcher on the benefits of gratitude and has conducted several studies on the effects of gratitude upon well-being.  His research has shown that gratitude actually increases happiness and reduces depression.

3.Grateful people sleep better.

A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being discovered that writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep.  Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.  And poor sleep is tied to a whole host of physical and emotional states, from anxiety and depression to obesity and heart disease, so getting better sleep goes a long way toward improving the quality of your life (and giving you even more to be grateful for).

4.Gratitude improves self-esteem.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased the self-esteem of athletes, which is critical for optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces the tendency to compare yourself to others, socially, which means that instead of focusing on what others have that you don’t, grateful people are able to genuinely feel good for other people and their accomplishments, without having that take anything away from them.  Negatively comparing yourself to others is a major factor in poor self esteem, so this finding is huge.

5.Gratitude increases mental strength.

For years, research has shown that gratitude reduces stress and that it may play a major role in increasing mental resilience.   A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of PTSD.  A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major factor in increased mental resilience after 9/11.  Recognising all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience, and resilience is one of the psychological factors identified as being critical to success and happiness.

Gratitude

The American Psychology Association defines resilience as: “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences…Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.” 

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