Clinically Reviewed by Sarah Hogan, MA LPC
Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 13 years of experience in the behavioral health field as well as a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma. She has extensive experience in counseling and case management with local mental health authorities, emergency homeless shelters, leading high acuity response teams, and serving first responders/veterans.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
It’s the time of year when the words “grateful” and “thankful” get a lot of attention. But, these words are so much more than something nice to post on social media or write in holiday cards. Studies prove that a person’s physical and mental health actually improves when they practice an attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude is the habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life.
Gratitude, Health, and Relationships
Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami are two of the preeminent researchers who study the effects of gratitude. In one of their studies, they asked participants to write a few sentences each week that focused on gratitude. After 10 weeks, the study participants who wrote about gratitude reported that they not only felt more satisfied with their lives, but they also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor.
A study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Health Psychology, found that couples who took time to express gratitude for each other felt more positive toward their partner and felt more comfortable talking openly about the status of their relationship.
The Benefits of Gratitude in the Workplace
The positive effects of gratitude are not reserved for your personal life. Gratitude is very beneficial in your professional life and business, too. A report from Harvard Medical School shows that simply giving thanks can affect an employee’s happiness and productivity. Here’s an example.
Harvard Medical School reports, “researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group … received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”
Gratitude is Good for the Brain
A study from the University of California, Berkley reported the brain activity of those who regularly practice gratitude for nearly 300 participants. Those who regularly practiced gratitude had “greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision-making” over those who did not.
Seven Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude
Now that we’ve shared the science behind it, we’re grateful to share seven scientifically proven effects of gratitude. Hopefully, these will give you some new perspective to carry into the holiday season and beyond.
- People who express gratitude are more satisfied with their lives.
- There is a direct link between gratitude and better health.
- Grateful people exercise more.
- Gratitude each day keeps the doctor away.
- A positive mindset is heart smart.
- Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation improves your quality of life.
- Gratitude is a stress-reliever!
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