How Gratitude Can Enhance Your Life
Paying attention to the good things in your life, no matter how small, can provide huge benefits to your overall health and happiness.
One of the most important parts of keeping a positive attitude, which flows into everything else that we do, is reflecting on what is going well for us in the world – some people call it “counting our blessings.” Feeling and expressing gratitude via thoughts or words keeps me spiritually, mentally, and physically well.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
Each day, usually in the morning or in the evening, I find a few minutes to think about the things I am thankful for, whether it’s something that happened that day, an ongoing situation, or a memory of the past that I enjoy appreciating. This daily practice is a key resource for cultivating happiness and energy that balance out the stresses and difficult moments of life.
Research on Gratitude’s Health Benefits
Several studies have demonstrated that there are multiple ways gratitude benefits your health:
- Expressions of gratitude make people more social.1
- Writing letters to express gratitude can lead to improved mental health for people with psychological struggles – which is most people to some degree!2
- A higher level of gratitude helps protect you from stress, rumination,3 and depression.4
- Feeling gratitude makes people more optimistic. Exercises such as writing a gratitude letter and counting blessings were associated with substantial improvements in optimism for hospital patients with suicidal thoughts.5
- Gratitude helps improve sleep quality and sleep duration.6
- Increased gratitude can improve your mood and self-confidence.7
- Perhaps thanks to the above effects, gratitude lowers levels of inflammation in the body.8
Ways to Cultivate a Life of Gratitude
- Call someone you don’t see often to tell them they are appreciated.
- Do something nice for someone, like completing a chore they might normally do or taking them to lunch.
- Write a thank you letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
- Volunteer for a cause to give back to your community.
- Write in an “abundance journal” each day about three things you are thankful for.
- Show kindness, respect, and appreciation towards everyone you encounter.
- Keep your words positive and do not complain when something bad happens.
- Smile as often as possible – practice reminding yourself to smile throughout each day.
To dig deeper into the meaning, origins, and benefits of gratitude, explore “The Science of Gratitude,” a white paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.
Thank you to all of Vitality’s amazing customers for the opportunity to help you achieve your health goals, our wonderful Vitality staff for sharing your expertise, and our families, friends, and everyone we encounter on a daily basis for being you! Happy Thanksgiving!
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth