Expressing gratitude isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s good for you, too! Science has proven 9 reasons why you should keep sharing what you’re thankful for.
There’s a lot of buzz about gratitude these days, and everyone from positive psychologists to mindfulness mavens
But is gratitude just some fluffy fad that do-gooders and personal growth gurus are talking about? Is being grateful just the polite thing we’re expected to express? Or are there actual benefits to this whole gratitude thing that
Well, not only do I love gratitude, but I love science as well, and today’s article gives gratitude a big old hi-five and stamp of approval with 9 science-backed benefits of cultivating a deeper sense of gratitude in our lives.
1. Gratitude is good for your physical health.
Gratitude is certainly an internal emotion, but did you know it impacts the internal workings of our physical body as well? It has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase the duration and quality of sleep, increase people’s engagement in physical exercise, and has a number of positive correlations to improved overall health and increased longevity. The message? Be grateful, live longer, and enjoy the ride along the way.
2. Gratitude increases self-esteem.
Did you know that feeling shame, guilt, and pride all activate similar reward centers in the brain? Strange but true! This is one of the reasons it’s so natural for us to load up with guilt and shame…it actually triggers a feeling of reward in a weirdly covert way.
The good news – there’s a way to change this that not only sheds the guilt and shame,
3. Gratitude decreases anxiety and worry.
As humans, we are naturally inclined to worry about things. (Did you think you were the only one? Well, you’re in good company, and you are NOT.) But why do we do this to ourselves? Even though it may not feel good, at the same time worrying can actually have a calming effect on the limbic system of the brain. If you think about it…when you’re worrying, your mind feels like it is “doing something” about the situation by trying to see all of the possibilities or figure out a solution (often obsessively).
However, there is a way to both feel good AND “do something” by interrupting the anxiety/worry spiral with some other great gratitude-based questions: What is going well? (and) What are my successes? Just like the guilt/shame spiral interceptors, these questions will reroute and strengthen your positive mindset in the moment, and over time.
4. Gratitude reduces depression.
On a chemical level, many studies have shown that gratitude boosts both dopamine and serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain. Interestingly enough, did you know that both of these components are found in many of today’s popular antidepressants as well?
It may then be no surprise that the effect of having gratitude in our lives has been shown to reduce depression, and in many cases can be a wonderful addition to your mental health care regime. A little bit of gratitude makes a big difference, and can be extremely effective in helping to shift into greater joy in your life.
5. Gratitude increases motivation and goal attainment.
So…you might be thinking… “If I start feeling grateful for life ALL the time, won’t I become complacent? Won’t it decrease my motivation to do anything differently or go for my dreams?” It might be understandable to think this (hello anxiety/worry spiral!), but studies have shown that in
6. Gratitude is good for business.
When people feel acknowledged and appreciated it goes a long way, and not just in our personal lives. Studies conducted on the effects of gratitude in the workplace, over a pool of nearly 50 countries, found that gratitude was directly linked “to improvements in productivity, profitability, quality, loyalty, safety, absenteeism, and other cost and performance metrics.” Saying thank you (and meaning it) is free, and may just be one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your work experience, and bottom line.
7. Gratitude strengthens relationships.
Have you ever spent time with someone who TRULY appreciates you? Or vice versa? It feels good, doesn’t it? This is perhaps an obvious connection, yet the power of gratitude in strengthening relationships is not to be underestimated. Studies have linked gratitude to both increased relationship satisfaction and inclusive behaviors in social settings. A deeper connection based on true appreciation and acknowledgement is a powerful basis for increasing the bond in existing relationships and expanding our social circles beyond our current sphere.
8. Gratitude increases altruism and impact.
So…we know that gratitude makes us feel better, improves our social life, and creates a better work environment, but isn’t that ultimately self-serving and limited in its scope? If that were all it did, maybe, however, studies have shown that gratitude doesn’t just make us feel good and keep it all to ourselves, it actually inspires us to help others. On top of that, it motivates us not only to help those whom we feel specifically grateful for but to help complete strangers as well. The ripple effect of cultivating gratitude is real, so go ahead and load up on all the gratitude you like, and notice where the inspiration and action take you.
9. Gratitude increases happiness.
At this point, we are racking up quite a list of gratitude benefits. So far we have improved our physical health, increased our self-esteem, reduced anxiety, worry, and depression, achieved our goals with greater motivation, increased our business success, enhanced our social life, AND made a positive contribution to the world.
Perhaps it seems quite clear that greater happiness would ensue, and in fact, both logic and research back up this claim. Gratitude has been shown across multiple studies to increase happiness overall…from the basics of simply having more “feel good” neurotransmitters floating around, to increased overall life satisfaction from the shifts and changes that having a regular connection to gratitude supports and creates. 
So…now that you know the powerful benefits that gratitude can deliver, are you wondering how to cultivate more of it in your own life? If yes, stay tuned for more gratitude resources in the new year, including the “5 Minute Happiness Boost: Gratitude Journaling Made Easy” where I introduce a fun and easy way to bring more gratitude into your life.
With love and (of course) gratitude,