The Gratitude Series: Why Does Gratitude Make Me Feel Good?
We talked last week about 7 Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day, but why does it matter? Why can't we just be thankful during the holidays, then move on after they are over? Well, it turns out that being grateful is good for us in more ways than one! Gratitude has physical, psychological, social, and intellectual benefits that you may want to take advantage of all year long.
Let's take a look at some of those benefits:
1. Physical Health
Let's face it, sometimes keeping up with eating healthy foods and exercising regularly gets a little difficult to keep up with in our busy lives. We have to make time to grocery shop and cook, then somehow have the motivation and time to do some type of physical activity?? That's just NOT happening every single day for a lot of us. But it doesn't have to take any extra time to remember everything we are grateful for. What are some of the physical benefits of gratitude?
more restful sleep
heart rate variability
lower blood pressure
While research is still fairly new on this subject, early studies show that participants who keep a gratitude journal or focus on their blessings more than struggles report the above benefits. There are a few possible reasons for this. Positive (i.e. grateful, appreciative, etc.) thoughts release neurotransmitters in our brains, specifically a category of neurotransmitters known as endogenous opioids--the body's natural painkillers. The endorphins you often hear about releasing during exercise fall into this category. Our bodies were created to be able to naturally manage pain in many circumstances, so it seems that gratitude is the key to unlock that ability!
In addition, people who are grateful tend to make healthier lifestyle choices as a result of their gratitude, including eating right, exercising more often, and staying away from bad habits. The decreased stress associated with grateful people is also a factor in improving health...which brings us to.....
2. Psychological State
It's no surprise that gratitude helps change your attitude and can give you warm, fuzzy feelings, but can it really be therapeutic enough to change your entire psychological state? According to research it can! Here's what gratitude can do to improve your state of mind:
reduced feelings of aggression
stronger resiliency (the ability to "bounce back" after a crisis)
increased positivity ratio (where positive feelings outweigh the negative)
It turns out gratitude could work as your own personal daily therapist--although it is not a replacement for professional help when needed! However, addressing these issues can help alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety, making everyday life more bearable.
3. Social Life
Being grateful also makes you a better friend! People like to be appreciated (no shocker there,) and friends who feel more appreciated are more likely to invest more in that relationship. However, research shows that being a grateful person can also help you make new friends. Another big surprise....people like being around positive people! How else is our social life impacted by gratitude?
closer, more satisfying romantic relationships
greater value for friendships
more positive family ties
indication of a quality friend
Facts are facts, so if you find yourself losing friends or struggling to make new friends, you may benefit from a healthy dose of gratitude! Try speaking even the most simple things you are grateful for to those in your life, and see how your relationships grow and flourish!
The regular practice of gratitude molds our personality, creating better decision-making abilities and work ethic. This can lead to increased success in our education or careers. Grateful people actually do their work better! Some other intellectual benefits that can affect your career or education include:
emotional intelligence (or control of emotions)
favor with employers/teachers
good coworker/classmate relationships
indication of a quality friend
Armed with all this information about gratitude and how it can improve your health and daily life, let's make a greater effort to practice it. If not for yourself, for the people you care about!
And while you've got Thanksgiving on your mind, don't forget to order your MATS Smoked Turkey or Pre-Cooked Ham to make your festivities go as smoothly as possible. It's a great way to give back to a program that is committed to helping the homeless in our area find their direction and become citizens who can continue the cycle of giving back. Order in person at 733 W. Main St. Morristown, TN 37814 or by clicking the link below. And check out next week's post in the Gratitude Series--How Gratitude Helps Us Help Others.