The Benefits of Gratitude

It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when the leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping, and “Turkey Day” is looming large. Oh! Let’s not forget what Turkey Day represents: Gratitude.

There are lots of social media posts that remind us to foster an attitude of gratitude, and to give thanks for what we have. Those are good pieces of advice, but will seeing them on your phone or computer really move you to be more grateful? Maybe, but probably not.

Humans tend to want the promise of something in return before investing time, effort, or money into changing or improving. Due to that, the chances of someone expressing and embracing gratitude because of a motivational message on Facebook or Instagram are slim.

So what will move one toward mindful and heartfelt gratitude? Maybe the following benefits of gratitude will do the trick. 

Improved mental health. For those who struggle with depression or anxiety, studies suggest that practicing gratitude can rewire how the brain deals with these challenges.

Better physical health. Researchers have also found that practicing gratitude is linked to improved sleep, stronger immunity, better cardiovascular health, and reduced pain.

Stronger social bonds. Everybody likes to feel appreciated. When someone expresses gratitude toward someone else, a social bond is formed between the two and a stronger relationship results.

Resilience. Gratitude has the power to redirect our thoughts to focus on positive emotions, which leads to higher levels of optimism and hope. This can improve our overall quality of life and help us to bounce back from life’s trials and challenges.

By now you’re probably thinking that these benefits are good and all, but how can one express gratitude without it being cheesy or hard to do? That’s the beauty of gratitude; it can be done on an individual or interpersonal level.

Perhaps you’re an introvert and aren’t comfortable expressing grateful sentiments to others. In this case, you can start small by listing three things that you’re grateful for every day.

If you’re comfortable with expressing gratitude to others, you can strengthen your relationships by telling one person a day how much you appreciate them.

What is it about being grateful that you find most challenging? How have you overcome it?

Like the emotion of love, gratitude requires action. If you wait to feel grateful before expressing it, you won’t express it very often. However, if you make an effort to find something to be grateful for, the emotion follows. As counterintuitive as it might seem, the best way to feel grateful is to put forth the effort to find something to be grateful for.

While forging an attitude of gratitude might seem daunting, the above benefits might provide the motivation to do it anyway. With so many benefits, what’ve you got to lose?

Kelly Martinez
Kelly Martinez
Kelly Martinez is a graduate of Utah Valley University who has written for a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Deseret News. He got his start covering sports and has expanded his writing to cover many topics. His company, Señor Write Inc., provides the platform for him to produce several types of writing.

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