Gratitude has been shown to significantly increase one’s quality of life. But what does that mean when thoughts of lack or jealousy constantly infiltrate your thoughts? The trick is to focus on what you have in your life instead of focusing on what you lack – to exchange worries and thoughts of self-pity for gratitude.
But what does gratitude mean? According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, “Gratitude is a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside yourself, or when you notice and relish little pleasures.” The ability to find the deeper appreciation for someone or something produces long-lasting positivity, which in turn has a beneficial impact on our lives.
What about the benefits? Gratitude works by engaging positive emotions that have direct physical benefits on our health and alter the way we perceive and interpret life. So can cultivating a gratitude practice really make you happier and healthier? According to science, the answer is yes! With that, here are a few more reasons to begin your gratitude practice today.
Gratitude Improves Relationships Expressing gratitude opens the door to more relationships. In fact, partners who express gratitude may also be more open in other areas, which may help strengthen a relationship. Practicing gratitude may also be good for your social life. Not only is saying thank you polite, but showing appreciation has been proven to help foster a wider social circle. So next time a stranger holds the door open for you or your coworker does you a favor, thank them! You may just make a new friend in the process.
Gratitude Improves Physical Health Not only are grateful people more likely to exercise and take care of their physical body, but it has been found that they experience less aches and pains, too. Even more impressive, studies have shown that gratitude has the ability to decrease blood pressure and heighten our immune systems to fight disease and decrease cortisol by up to 23 percent.
Gratitude Improves Mental Health Simply taking a moment to acknowledge what you’re grateful for is a powerful practice. It turns out that it may help reduce symptoms of depression and improve mood.
Gratitude Improves Sleep Cultivating a gratitude practice may help improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration. Intrigued? Make it a nightly ritual to write in a gratitude journal for a few minutes before bed and experience the benefits for yourself!
All habits in life take practice, and gratitude is no different. Allowing yourself the time to cultivate gratitude may be the most important tool you have to maintain well-being and the simplest thing you can do to transform your life.