Being grateful is an important part of everyday life. It helps people to notice and appreciate the positive things that are happening in their lives.
According to American Psychological Association, gratitude is a sense of thankfulness and happiness in response to receiving a gift, either a tangible benefit (e.g., a present, favor) given by someone or a fortunate happenstance (e.g., a beautiful day). Gratitude is often associated with greater happiness and health.
A recent survey that was done between July 14 and July 18, 2022, on 2,000 Americans showed that 65% of the respondents who are “very happy” on daily basis are also more likely to “always” give thanks. The survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Motivosity also showed that the respondents express their gratitude to others about six times a month. The respondents also receive the same amount of appreciation back where they receive appreciation from spouses or partners at the top of the list (28%), then from family members (26%), and friends (24%).
Indeed, past studies have shown that gratitude can lead people to greater happiness, experience more positive emotions, improve health, and savor good experiences. While gratitude might not be the answer for every situation in life, gratitude can affect and brings positive changes in several aspects of people’s life which can lead to greater life satisfaction.
When talking about the benefit of gratitude, people more often talk about how gratitude makes them happier and are generally more aware of the small positive things that are happening in their life. However, gratitude can do more than that. There are other tangible benefits of gratitude that people might feel but are not aware of. These benefits can make you realize that gratitude can improve your life in so many aspects, not only in your personal life, but also in your relationship, and even in your workplace.
While gratitude is oftentimes linked with psychological benefits, several studies also found that more grateful people are healthier.
Lessens physical pain
One study of gratitude asked college students to write about things that they are grateful for once a week for ten weeks. The result showed that the students reported fewer physical symptoms which include headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and sore muscles compared to students who wrote about daily hassles.
Improves healthy behaviors
Grateful individuals have better physical health partly because of their greater psychological health, which gives them an inclination to engage in healthier activities, and a willingness to seek help for health concerns. Similarly, people who are higher in life satisfaction tend to exercise more and smoke less.
Enhances sleep quality
Another aspect that is also important for overall physical health is sleep. Good quality of sleep increases brain performance and mood, while inadequate sleep leads to increased chances of developing cardiovascular morbidity, diabetes mellitus, obesity, derailment of cognitive functions, and other diseases.
Interestingly, studies suggest that practicing gratitude can be one way to increase the quality of sleep. This study in 2016 found that participants who practice gratitude journaling for 2 weeks had improved daily sleep quality.
Aside from the increased quality of sleep, grateful people reported falling asleep more quickly, sleeping longer, and staying awake easier during the day. This is because people who practice gratitude before sleep are having more positive thoughts and fewer negative and worrying thoughts which leads to superior sleep quality. While studies on gratitude effects on sleep are still limited, this practice has enough evidence to make it worth a try.
Gratitude is other-directed, which means people are being grateful towards other people, things, or God for the positive things that they have in their life. Saying thank you, giving appreciation, and being grateful for the people around you, can increase the quality of your relationships.
In romantic relationships, a partner’s thoughtful gesture can increase feelings of gratitude which makes the grateful couple more satisfied with their relationship. Furthermore, grateful couples feel that their partner understands, validates their feelings, and cares for them which is an essential part of intimacy and can lead to healthy relationships.
People with grateful partners felt more connected with their partners and are more attentive to their partner’s needs. Being appreciated in the relationship also gives people the security to recognize the importance of the relationship which makes them more likely to stay in the relationship.
Gratitude can also help you to create new friendships or maintain old ones. People are more grateful to the friends that are close to them which in turn makes them feel more connected with each other.
Influences social behaviors
Gratitude helps people to feel more positive about themselves and others around them. This has to do with the positive social meaning that people associated with gratitude. This study shows that people who express gratitude are perceived as warm and friendly, which makes other people who hear their expressions of gratitude more inclined to form a meaningful relationship with the person.
Whether you are an employee or an employer, gratitude in the workplace can help you not only have a stronger relationship with colleagues but could also improve your mood and productivity.
Keeps burnout away
Grateful individuals are more likely to experience positive emotions such as joy, optimism, and lower stress which could lead to positive working environments and increase engagement at work.
Furthermore, gratitude can also improve employee cognitive performance. According to this study, gratitude promotes creative thinking in the workplace where grateful employees were indicated as “idea creators” who have unconventional ways to find solutions to a problem.
Improves motivation and initiative-taking
As an employer, showing gratitude to your employees can increase their motivation. According to an APA survey, 93% of employees who feel valued are motivated to give their best to their work, and 83% said that they feel more engaged. Since gratitude is also linked with prosocial behavior, employees who are grateful are more likely to volunteer and take on extra work assignments, be more helpful, and avoid engaging in harmful behaviors.
Gratitude is an important and beneficial practice that you can incorporate into your life. Whether you want to practice it to improve your physical health or your relationship, or you want to feel the benefit of gratitude in the workplace, grateful people can reap many benefits in every aspect of their life.
Furthermore, gratitude could enable a positive loop of human flourishing, where a higher level of gratitude may lead to an increase in life satisfaction, which then in turn increase gratitude, and so on.
If you would like to take this reading further, the Happiness Science Labs produces learning materials and tools using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science. Visit the Happiness Science Labs today.
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