Have you ever say “thank you” to the person who has done some favor for you? How did you feel about it? Perhaps you feel happiness, satisfaction, and other positive emotions.
How about saying “thank you” to the person who wronged you? Perhaps you did it for sarcasm sake and you also felt better because the person you address gave the response you want.
Whatever the case is, do you know that having an attitude of gratefulness have a big impact on your health?
The reason why people are less satisfied is that of hedonic adaptation.
Hedonic adaptation is the constant exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus that tends to make a person experience less emotion toward the stimulus. In other words, you get used to positive things that happen to you. In the same manner, you get used to the negative things that happen to you which lead to a discontented and complaining attitude.
The promotion, for instance, that you had at workplace excite and motivate you to do something even greater, but after getting numerous promotion, the excitement it has at first does not have the same effect causing for boredom and later on you’re complaining about it.
The pill to fight this adaptation is nothing but gratitude.
There are several studies on gratitude that will prove of its benefits in physical and mental health as well as in social and career. Gratitude, for instance, will lead you to a happier life. One of the reasons is because gratitude triggers positive feedback loops. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, even noted that mentally strong people exchange self-pity for gratitude.
Gratitude is linked to happiness and it has more benefit than what you could think of. Take a look at the following.
- Less materialistic
- Less self-centered
- More optimistic
- Increased self-esteem
- More spiritual
- Improved sleep
- Less sick
- Increased energy
- More exercise
- More good feelings
- More relaxed
- More resilient
- Less envious
- Happier memories
- More social
- Healthier marriage
- More friendships
- Deeper relationships
- Better management
- Improved networking
- Goal achievement
- Improved decision making
- Increased productivity
However, in this article, we will only focus and expand on the benefits of gratitude in physical and mental health.
Mental advantages of being grateful
Gratitude has a lot and a big impact on mental health. It opens door to more relationship, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, improves self-esteem, and even increases mental health.
Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, conducted multiple research on the link between gratitude and well-being. He confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression—for gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions from envy and resentments to frustrations and regrets.
Depression is one of the major enemies of psychological health. But adopting an attitude of gratitude can help you fight this mental killer for it reduces stress and at the same time works in overcoming trauma. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for, even in worst times, fosters resilience.
There was a study in 2006 whose participants are Vietnam War veterans. If you’re familiar with the Vietnam War perhaps you would know how traumatic it was. However, those veterans who have found reasons to be thankful were found out to have a lower rate of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Another study in 2003 that is related to the September 11 terrorist attack almost has the same result. The “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” stated that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience.
Gratitude also enhances your empathy skills and reduces aggression resulting for others to open doors for more relationships. Meaning to say, grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner even when others behave less kindly. Why? It is because positive people produces more empathy and have a low desire to seek revenge. And being grateful invites people to like you, even a new acquaintance.
These results might even boost your self-esteem. Just imagine what a big impact just by being constantly grateful.
But speaking of self-esteem, gratitude can also improve self-esteem, reducing comparison and being appreciative to the people’s accomplishment. There was a study in 2014 titled, “Journal of Applied Sport Psychology”, which found out that gratitude increased the athletes’ self-esteem–it is a vital component to optimal performance.
Gratitude attributes to physical health
Gratitude improves physical health according to a 2012 study titled “Personality and Individual Differences.” The study reported that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and even felt healthier. They also experience a better sleep.
If you encounter a problem regarding sleep, you may want to practice gratitude. Practice making a gratitude journal for 15 minutes before lying to bed and it will improve your sleep.
Happierhuman.com make a list of benefits gratitude that is based on various studies. They are as follows:
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused participants to report 16% fewer physical symptoms, 19% more time spent exercising, 10% less physical pain, 8% more sleep, and 25% increased in sleep quality.
- The emotions of appreciation and gratitude have shown to induce the relaxation response.
- Patients with hypertension significantly decrease systolic blood pressure after instructed to count blessing once a week.
- Gratitude is correlated with vitality and energy.
It was concluded that gratitude is related to life longevity. Well, if the physical result of gratitude is fewer aches and pains, it is no wonder that it can even prolonged one’s life.
Different people have different personality but continual practice will make you adopt certain personality traits. For instance, practicing gratitude for 3 months will give you the ability to self-generate slight feelings of gratitude and happiness on command, though this will varies depending on the type of person you are. Some practices take several more months to see benefits to appear. Nevertheless, you should keep on cultivating gratitude if you are expecting a major change in your life.