Developing and fostering a personal sense of gratitude – defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” – can have many wonderful far-reaching benefits for one’s health, happiness and success in life. And these effects can be obtained and enjoyed by simply spending a few mindful minutes per day.
Focusing on one’s blessings and appreciating the kindness of others has been shown to make people happier, strengthen their relationships, improve their health, boost their careers, stabilize their emotions and nurture more positive-leaning personalities. These effects, among others, may even extend one’s lifespan.
“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
One recent study from the University of California – San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful actually had better heart health, specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythm.
Some other key benefits of being grateful include:
You Are a Happier Person
Being grateful can have a huge impact on your own personal sense of happiness and well-being. Studies have shown that mindful activities such as keeping a daily gratitude journal can boost long-term well-being by more than 10 percent, which is akin to the psychological effect of doubling your annual income.
It’s Easier Make Friends
Focusing on gratitude doesn’t just impact a person internally; it also affects your interactions with those around you. Out of gratitude comes greater sociability and trust, a kinder overall demeanor and an increase in appreciation, all of which has a positive impact on friendships, marriages and other relationships.
You’ll Feel Better
There’s evidence of a long line of health-related benefits from being grateful. They include fewer physical symptoms, more time spent exercising, less physical pain, more sleep and increased sleep quality, lowered blood pressure, decreased feelings of depression, and an overall boost to vitality and energy. These cumulative effects may extend your lifespan by a few months or even years.
It Will Enhance Your Emotions
With feelings of gratitude comes less feelings of bitterness and envy, which frees up one’s psyche to experience more happiness, instead of negative emotions. This also helps you recover from stress, a silent killer.
Your Personality Will Change, For The Better
Gratitude will transform your personality in multiple ways, leading to an overall sense of happiness and fulfillment. Being grateful leads to higher self-esteem and optimism, more spirituality, and less selfishness and materialism. These are all positive changes with far-reaching effects on your overall personality.
Next Steps: Four Easy Ways of Being Thankful and Showing Gratitude
• Tell someone you love how grateful you are for them.
• Write down something you are thankful for each day.
• Hang pictures in your home of what you are thankful for, and look at them daily.
• Learn gratitude prayers and use them.
And remember, gratitude may very well be the answer to many of the problems we all face.This should be a motivator for you to stick to a daily program of expressing gratitude. This is an effective – and simple – tool for lasting health and happiness.
“Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished,” said Emmons. “Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”