The Benefits of Gratitude
A simple uttering of the words ‘thank you’ is a sure-fire way of making someone feel appreciated. But while it’s pretty well known that gratitude is good for us, what exactly are the benefits to being more grateful in our everyday lives?
Research has shown that by falling asleep in a grateful mindset, you are likely to experience longer, better-quality sleep. Instead of spending the time before you doze off stressing about things in the past and future, focus on being grateful for what you have in the present.
Being grateful is also said to reduce anxiety levels and help you manage stressful situations. The next time things seem to be going all wrong, try to put things into perspective by focusing on appreciating what has gone right for you that day.
Adopting a grateful attitude has also been shown to increase people’s willpower, making them more likely to achieve goals and persevere when things get challenging. You’re also more likely to make improved decisions in your everyday life.
Learning to be grateful for the things you have in life helps reduce the inclination of materialism in people. A grateful attitude helps to distinguish between your needs and wants, and to see the value in the things you already have and in the experiences that can’t be bought.
By focusing on the things you appreciate about someone you love or someone you work with – rather than their flaws – you are more likely to experience stronger, more positive relationships.
It’s easy to stew on all the things you wish you could change about your life, but can you see and hear? Walk and talk? Read and write? Do you have access to clean water and plenty of food to eat? Can you travel outside your home without the fear of being attacked or persecuted? Compared to many people, you’ve got it pretty good. And research indicates by appreciating the awesome hand you’ve been dealt in life, you’re likely to feel a whole lot happier in general.
A great way to shift your mindset to a more grateful one is to start a gratitude journal. Every morning when you wake up, take ten minutes to write down five things that you’re grateful for. You can also turn this into a form of gratitude meditation, by sitting still with your eyes closed and focusing on each item individually, taking slow, deep breaths and letting the feeling of gratitude flow throughout your body.
An even simpler means of bringing more gratitude into your life is to start saying thank you more often. Take the time to tell a friend you appreciate them. Thank someone at work for something they’ve done that’s made your life easier. And don’t just mutter a thank you to the person who hands you your coffee each morning – look them in the eye and smile while you say it. You’re not only bound to brighten their day, but you’ll be giving yourself a boost as well.
Mikki Brammer is an Australian writer, photographer and self declared wanderer currently living in New York by way of France.