Here are 7 scientifically proven benefits:
- Gratitude improves physical health – Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
- Gratitude improves psychological health – Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Boosts the immune system – Gratitude has been shown to help contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Stress lowers the immune response to potential bodily threats, whereas increased mental well-being can help your body fight off illness, according to a 2004 research review. Practicing gratitude also has the ability to improve other aspects of physical health, with one early-stage 2017 studyTrusted Source suggesting it can reduce the risks associated with heart failure.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression – Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
- Grateful people sleep better – Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem – A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs, a major factor in reduced self-esteem, grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
- Gratitude improves relationships – Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
- Gratitude increases mental strength – For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for, even during the worst times, fosters resilience.
- Gratitude Increases optimism – Being an optimistic person can have plenty of health benefits, including healthy aging, according to a 2019 studyTrusted Source. If you’re not naturally optimistic, gratitude practice can help you cultivate an optimistic outlook, as suggested by a 2018 study. In an older 2003 study, it took just 10 weeks of regular gratitude practice for participants to feel more optimistic and positive about their present lives and the future.
You can practice gratitude in lots of different ways, like:
- Exercises like journaling
- Paying attention to the little things in life, like the birds in the trees
- Telling someone you’re grateful for them or for something they did, even if it was a long time ago
- Doing something kind for someone in your life to express your gratitude
- Reflecting and/or meditating on the positive aspects of your life
- Giving thanks through prayer