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The Health Benefits of Gratitude

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Have an attitude of gratitude”. But, do you know that it goes beyond being thankful, and that there are actual health benefits of gratitude?

According to scientific research there are numerous benefits of gratitude.

Gratitude makes us happier. Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career. Gratitude make us more optimistic, less materialistic, more spiritual, less self-centered, and more self-esteem—all of which leads to more happiness.

Gratitude makes our memories happier and bounce back from stress more quickly. Ever think back to a negative memory that you can’t seem to get past? In one study, putting people in a grateful mood helped them find closure for certain negative memories. Those that have more gratitude have more proactive coping skills, are more likely to have and seek social support in times of need, are less likely to develop PTSD, and more more likely to grow as a person in times of stress. Gratitude helps make us more resilient.

Gratitude opens doors for more relationships. It also makes use more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.

One way that marriages suffer is when passion fizzles, and partners become less appreciative and well, more naggy. Scientists have actually created an appreciation to naggy ratio, called the Losada ratio. It divides the number of positive expressions (support, encouragement, and appreciation) divided by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism). When the ratio was below .9 (11% more negative than positive expressions) marriages deteriorated and headed toward divorce. The marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positive ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).

Gratitude helps you be a better and more effective manager. Expressions of gratitude have been found to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism are slightly demotivating. You can be the boss and be grateful. It is not a sign of weakness when you express thanks or give praise for a job well done. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude in the workplace will make it a more productive and more enthusiastic environment.

Gratitude makes you healthier. You are more likely to take better care of yourself by exercising more and attend regular check-ups with your doctor, which is likely to contribute to further longevity. According to several studies from 2003 – 2009, the following results were documented:

For those keeping a gratitude journal–

  • 16% had fewer physical symptoms
  • 19% more time spent exercising
  • 10% less physical pain
  • 25% improved quality of sleep.

In another study, patients with hypertension were instructed to count their blessings once a week. There was a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure.

No, gratitude cannot cure cancer or other diseases, but it can increase your physiological functioning. Positive emotion improves improves your health by improving your mind. For example, faster recovery from certain medical procedures, and positive changes in immune system functioning.

Consider starting your own journal of gratitude and focus on what you are grateful for this holiday season. You might surprise yourself in knowing you have more positive than negative things going for you.

We are grateful for all of you and hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

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