Saying ‘thank you’ is something that we tend to do automatically – when somebody holds a door open, or if somebody lets us pass on the sidewalk for example. But, there’s a difference between just uttering the words ‘thank you’ and actually practicing a grateful attitude. Instead of saving being thankful for simply those times of year where it’s popular such as
Thanksgiving or the Christmas season, practicing an attitude of gratitude every day of your life can open up a number of benefits to you and your happiness.
Not only does practicing gratitude and saying thank you constitute good manners, studies show that displaying appreciation can actually be a great way to make and retain new friends. Thanking a new acquaintance increases the likelihood of them wanting to pursue an ongoing relationship. So, whether you thank a work colleague for holding a door open for you or write a quick note expressing gratitude to somebody who helped you on a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions towards your life and happiness can lead to new opportunities.
Expressing gratitude can have a significant effect on your physical health. Reports show that grateful people tend to experience less aches and pains and feel healthier than people who don’t practice gratitude regularly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, practicing regular gratitude will also encourage you to take better care of your own health for example by exercising regularly and visiting the doctor for frequent health check-ups. Being grateful for what you have regarding your health can be a great motivator when it comes to paying more attention to looking after yourself.
Practicing gratitude can seriously help to improve your mental and emotional health. Being truly thankful can decrease a significant number of unhealthy and negative emotions which you may feel, for example anger, resentment, regret envy or frustration.
Leading researchers in the study of gratitude have proven with a number of different case studies that making a conscious effort to practice gratitude daily can have a huge positive impact on your well-being, helping to improve happiness and minimizes feelings of anxiety, depression and dissatisfaction.
People who practice gratitude daily and truly learn to be thankful for what they have also experience an increased ability to be sensitive to others and empathize with them. When you are not in the habit of practicing gratitude, it can be easy to behave in a revengeful manner and hold grudges – all of which can strip away from your overall happiness and well-being.
Being grateful will help you to behave in more of a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly to you. Having the ability to empathize with others will put you in a position where you are less likely to retaliate against others and be able to see the positive side of situations more often.
Practicing gratitude can significantly decrease your desire to seek revenge even when others wrong you, which in turn helps you to let go of negative and stressful thoughts which can interfere with your happiness.
It is no secret that not sleeping well can have a huge impact on how happy you feel in your daily life. Sleep is vital to our mental energy and getting a good night’s rest enables you to start each day feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on any stress and complications which may get in your way.
Practicing gratitude reduces negative thoughts of stress, worry, envy, anxiety and even revenge – all of the things which can keep you up at night. Studies show that grateful people tend to get a much better sleep each night as they don’t have as many negative thoughts and feelings in their mind preventing them from relaxing and falling into a deep and refreshing sleep. Spending just ten to fifteen minutes jotting down a few things which you are grateful for before bed can help to increase your happiness and allow you to sleep feeling significantly more positive and relaxed.
When you practice gratitude on a daily basis, you will automatically become a nicer and more positive person – something which can significantly improve your self-esteem. If up until now your life has been cluttered with stress, dissatisfaction and unhappiness, it’s highly likely that your self-esteem will also be suffering as a result.
When you practice gratitude, you will be a lot less likely to experience feelings of resentment towards people in better careers, for example. This will in turn encourage you to feel content with your own life and the things which you have – something which is crucial for good self-esteem.
Comparing yourself to others can cause you to foster resentful and negative feelings towards yourself. However, daily gratitude can help these feelings to disappear and instead, you will begin to foster feelings of thankfulness for what you have and a pride in yourself for everything which you have achieved.
Being stronger mentally is yet another of the benefits which you will experience when you begin to practice the habit of daily gratitude. Over the years, extensive research of people who engage in daily gratitude has not only shown that the habit is able to reduce stress and increase happiness, it can also play a major part in helping individuals to overcome trauma.
Experiencing a traumatic event whether it be in childhood or adult life is a huge contributor to feeling unhappy in your daily life. Recovering from trauma can take years, and in many cases it is a person’s mindset which decides how quickly and how well they discover, regardless of any help or treatment which they are receiving in order to assist in their recovery.
If you have been through trauma in your life, practicing daily gratitude can help you to quicken your recovery and gain better control over your life and emotions. Recognizing all of the things which you have to be grateful for even during the worst times of your life leads to a greater ability to foster resilience and strengthen your mind, putting you in a better position to cope with trauma.
We all have the ability to cultivate and practice gratitude. However, if you currently feel that you have nothing to be thankful for and have hit rock bottom, it can be extremely difficult to begin changing your habits to practice gratitude daily and be thankful for everything which you have.
But, it’s important that you don’t give up. Ensure that you use the positive mindset and strategies for practicing acceptance that were mentioned in the first two chapters when you are working to increase your ability to practice gratitude each day. You could begin by simply taking a few minutes each day in which you will make the effort to list some things which you are grateful for.
This doesn’t have to be huge things – the small things can often mean the most, so if you’re grateful that it didn’t rain today, you’re practicing gratitude. As you get used to finding things to be thankful for rather than finding things to resent, you will become more used to the habit and eventually, practicing gratitude will become second nature.