We’re told the benefits of gratitude, or feeling grateful, are quite remarkable. There are social experiments, scientific research, detailed books, popular speeches and trendy practices that all discuss in length the benefits of gratitude. Despite this, sometimes we need to understand why.
Why is gratitude important? In simple terms, it’s because gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and the feeling of satisfaction. And whilst every single person will define happiness differently, it’s undeniable that every single person wants more happiness. And to feel more content and satisfied. In fact, many believe that gratitude is the secret to happiness. Making gratitude very important indeed.
Gratitude and Happiness Research
As modern day research on the topic of gratitude continues to expand, the link is becoming even clearer:
Gratitude increases happiness and wellbeing.
If you’re not yet convinced that practicing gratitude will make you happier, then you could always give it a try? Here are some great ideas on how to practice gratitude.
Studies by Bryant (1989), Janoff-Bulman & Berger (2000) and Langston (1994), all showed that:
“The ability to notice, appreciate, and savor the elements of one’s life has been viewed as a crucial determinant of well-being.”
McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang (2002) research found that:
“Compared with their less grateful counterparts, grateful people are higher in positive emotions and life satisfaction and also lower in negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy.”
- A genetically determined set point for happiness,
- The happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and
- Happiness-relevant activities and practices.
With the last factor (activities) having the best ability to increase happiness. Because it’s within our own control. And you guessed it; practicing gratitude is the most recommended activity. It’s a great reminder that we have the ability to increase our own happiness.
Benefits of Gratitude
Ultimately we all want to be happier. But if we look even further, we can find plenty of additional benefits of gratitude, including:
- You’ll Have a More Positive Outlook
Expressing gratitude helps you see the best in others as well as everyday parts of life. When you learn to live a life full of gratitude, your outlook on life changes for the positive.
You’ll start to see the positives in other people and situations. This helps you maintain a positive outlook which is beneficial to your health and happiness.
- You Become More Likable
Let’s face it, no one wants to be around someone who’s negative all of the time. Expressing gratitude is a positive gesture. This mindset helps you become more likable to others.
Meaning you will make more friends and have a loyal community of people around you supporting you in every day.
- It Improves Your Physical Health
Being grateful is a wonderful way to improve your health. In fact, people who regularly take time to practice gratitude have up to 20% lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) than the normal population.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Gratitude also lowers your blood pressure, improves your sleep, and decreases chronic pain.
Some studies have even shown that a regular gratitude practice can improve your overall immune function, making you less likely to get sick.
- It Enhances Empathy
When you take the time to express gratitude, you’ll find your empathy levels rise. Being more empathetic also reduces the chances of anger and being short tempered.
People who express gratitude are more often found helping resolve issues in an amicable way and tend to empathize with people going through difficult situations.
- It Allows You To Challenge Adversity
Everyone encounters adversity at some point. Yet some people are resilient. No matter what they face, they always seem to bounce back and turn obstacles into opportunities to better themselves.
What’s the secret? It’s simple, grateful people are focused on what’s going right, on what resources they already have, and how they can use these blessings to improve their fortunes. This enables them to cope with minor setbacks and crushing defeats without losing their will to carry on.
- Gratitude Strengthens Relationships
It’s hard to feel love or act kindly toward someone when you’re always focusing on their faults.
Look beyond the surface. Perhaps your spouse is forgetful but what else are they? Are they an amazing parent? A kick-ass teacher? An incredible support system to you as you’re building your side hustle?
Grateful people aren’t focused on what the other person is doing wrong. They’re looking at how much joy and contentment their loved one brings to them and they’re eager to return that joy.
- Gratitude Encourages Self-Love
Making strides toward self-love is difficult if you’re always listing your own flaws and failures.
If you’re like most people, you probably have a mental list of reasons why you’re unworthy, unlovable, and undeserving of good things. But thankfulness allows you to step back and see positive things about yourself.
Is gratitude the secret to happiness?
“The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.”
If gratitude is scientifically proven to increase happiness, it’s free and accessible to everyone, then could it be said that it’s the secret to happiness? Hmm…. that would be a stretch.
Because everyone’s definition of happiness is different. And gratitude, whilst clearly important, is not going to be the only way to achieve happiness.
We all have different drivers. Some would say that the secret to happiness is helping other people. Others would (unfortunately) say that it’s money.
Whilst gratitude makes you a happier person, and helps you to extract the maximum amount of appreciation from the good things as possible, there are other factors that are also at play.
The great news is that gratitude makes a huge difference. It’s simple to implement, relatively easy to get in the habit of and is an effective tool at our disposal.
Gratitude Is A Habit – Not Just A Feeling
Embracing a grateful spirit doesn’t mean you’ll never have another bad day. But it does mean that you’ll approach these days differently.
Instead of cataloguing everything that’s going wrong, you’ll square your shoulders and look for the silver lining. Because you know if you search hard enough, you will find it.
That’s the power of gratitude!
- How Do I Practice Gratitude? How you practice gratitude works differently for everyone. Here are 11 simple ideas for making gratitude more of a habit.
- Just in case you need a bit more convincing on the enormous benefits of practising gratitude, here are 6 different ted talks on gratitude to check out. They offer different perspectives on gratitude and the impact it can have on our brains and our lives.
- What Are Some Examples of Practicing Gratitude? If you’re looking for some great alternative ways to practice gratitude and get into a regular habit of expressing gratitude, then check out these great examples to try. Journaling is not the only option.