There’s lots of talk on social media at the moment about how gratitude is good for you. However, unless the actual benefits are explained it’s often hard to get enough incentive to actually start doing something new. So, I thought I’d discuss some evidence-backed benefits of practicing gratitude.
Practicing gratitude is beneficial for romantic, non-romantic and family relationships.
- Thanking people you meet makes them more likely to want to keep a friendship going and expressing gratitude to your friends increases the chance of working through issues together and have a more positive perception of each other 1.
- Expressing gratitude to your loved one can improve relationship quality 2.
- Practicing gratitude has been shown to protect youngsters from the stress of illness in a family 3.
Gratitude can do so much for our mental wellbeing.
- Happiness 😊 – just 5 minutes of gratitude a day can improve our long-term happiness by over 10%! 4,5. That’s equal to the amount of happiness gained by doubling your income 6. Wowzees! Taking the time to appreciate what we have really does make us happier!
- It’s not only present-day happiness that is effected – gratitude has the power of making our memories seem happier! It does this by increasing the likelihood we remember positive experiences 7and by changing more negative memories into positive ones 8!
- Improve self-esteem – gratitude can help lessen social comparisons and reduce resentment and be able to the happy for others’ successes. It even helps athletes perform better by increasing their self-esteem9!
- Increase mental resilience – gratitude can not only minimise stress, but help in beating stress following traumatic events, i.e. post-traumatic stress disorder, even events such as a terrorist attack 10.
- Optimism – regular gratitude practice has been shown to lead to 5-15% increases in optimism 4. Optimism can increase life expectancy by several years 11.
- Writing a gratitude journal before you go to bed can improve your sleep quality and length of sleep 12. In just 2 weeks you can see changes of improved sleep and wellbeing 13.
- Practicing gratitude is more likely to make you patient whilst making economic decisions, leading to better decision making 14.
- Gratitude can lead to improved managerial skills, particularly complementing your juniors and improved mentorship 15.
- Gratitude can help you find purpose and meaning in your work, as well as help you to apply your strengths 16. Finding your purpose at work leads to a more fulfilled career. The concept of finding your purpose in life is so important, and it’s called ikigai in Japanese Blue Zones.
- Using gratitude at work can significantly reduce work-related stress. Gratitude can help even in the most stressful jobs, one study showed gratitude practice by depressed and stressed hospital staff significantly reduced their symptoms 17.
There’s actually more, but I don’t want to keep rabbiting on for too long! I hope this has helped uncover some of the evidence-based benefits of gratitude for you. If you want to start incorporating gratitude into your day there are many ways you can do this:
- Buy an old-fashioned notebook and write thoughts out by hand before going to sleep each day
- Use a gratitude journal app (see my favourite health and wellness apps take 2 blog for a suggestion)
- Take a moment in your day to mentally acknowledge that which you are grateful for that day, use social media as a well of sharing your gratitude.
- Make a gratitude jar – a bit like a piggy bank, but eat day write down a few things that have made you are grateful for and fold up the piece of paper and pop it in the jar.
p.s. I’m grateful for you spending the time to read this x
- Lambert, N. M. & Fincham, F. D. Expressing gratitude to a partner leads to more relationship maintenance behavior. Emotion 11, 52–60 (2011).
- Algoe, S. B., Fredrickson, B. L. & Gable, S. L. The social functions of the emotion of gratitude via expression. Emotion 13, 605–609 (2013).
- Stoeckel, M., Weissbrod, C. & Ahrens, A. The Adolescent Response to Parental Illness: The Influence of Dispositional Gratitude. J. Child Fam. Stud. 24, 1501–1509 (2015).
- Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 84, 377–89 (2003).
- Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N. & Peterson, C. Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions. Am. Psychol. 60, 410–421 (2005).
- Sacks, D. W., Stevenson, B. & Wolfers, J. The new stylized facts about income and subjective well-being. Emotion 12, 1181–1187 (2012).
- Watkins, P. C., Grimm, D. L. & Kolts, R. Counting your blessings: Positive memories among grateful persons. Curr. Psychol. 23, 52–67 (2004).
- Watkins, P. C., Cruz, L., Holben, H. & Kolts, R. L. Taking care of business? Grateful processing of unpleasant memories. J. Posit. Psychol. 3, 87–99 (2008).
- Chen, L. H. & Wu, C.-H. Gratitude Enhances Change in Athletes’ Self-Esteem: The Moderating Role of Trust in Coach. J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 26, 349–362 (2014).
- Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E. & Larkin, G. R. What good are positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 84, 365–76 (2003).
- Maruta, T., Colligan, R. C., Malinchoc, M. & Offord, K. P. Optimists vs Pessimists: Survival Rate Among Medical Patients Over a 30-Year Period. Mayo Clin. Proc. 75, 140–143 (2000).
- Digdon, N. & Koble, A. Effects of Constructive Worry, Imagery Distraction, and Gratitude Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Pilot Trial. Appl. Psychol. Heal. Well-Being 3, 193–206 (2011).
- Jackowska, M., Brown, J., Ronaldson, A. & Steptoe, A. The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep. J. Health Psychol. 21, 2207–2217 (2016).
- DeSteno, D., Li, Y., Dickens, L. & Lerner, J. S. Gratitude: A Tool for Reducing Economic Impatience. Psychol. Sci. 25, 1262–1267 (2014).
- Stone, E. F. & Stone, D. L. The Effects of Multiple Sources of Performance Feedback and Feedback Favorability on Self-Perceived Task Competence and Perceived Feedback Accuracy. J. Manage. 10, 371–378 (1984).
- Dik, B. J., O’Connor, W. F., Shimizu, A. B. & Duffy, R. D. Personal Growth and Well-Being at Work. J. Career Dev. 089484531773064 (2017). doi:10.1177/0894845317730642
- Cheng, S.-T., Tsui, P. K. & Lam, J. H. M. Improving mental health in health care practitioners: Randomized controlled trial of a gratitude intervention. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 83, 177–186 (2015).