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Three scientific reasons for gratitude, and three ways to practice
29/1/2020

“If you want to boost your happiness, try being thankful.” – Jill McCulloch

 

 

Is ‘being grateful’ a free key to happiness? Gratitude is one of the most overlooked ways to increase happiness, health and well-being.

 

Scientific research into positive psychology has shown that being more grateful can affect many areas of your life. Benefits include more positive emotions, closer social relationships, a better way to look at money, more job satisfaction, increased mental and physical health and even a more friendly personality. Here are some benefits of gratitude, according to science. At the end, we’ve also given you our ideas on how you can practice gratitude daily to make the most out of your life!

 

Three scientific reasons to be grateful

 

1 – Gratitude makes you healthier

 

Self-care practices like gratitude can have a transformative effect on your mental and physical health.

 

 

Scientific studies have shown that gratitude can:

- Decrease pain

- Reduce bad health symptoms

- Increase time spent exercising

- Increase sleep time

- Increase sleep quality

- Lower blood pressure

- Increase energy

- Extend your lifespan

- Lower depressive symptoms

- Reduce stress levels

 

Wow! All of those health benefits? When you see this list, there might be points that resonate with you. We challenge you to practice gratitude to see how it impacts your health.

 

2 – Gratitude boosts your self-esteem

 

On some days, you might feel like you have a total lack of confidence. Other days, you can feel like you’re flying. Hacking your brain to notice the good things in your life can help to re-programme ruminating negative thoughts in your mind.

 

 

Being appreciative makes you more attractive because you’re showing up to others that you’re grateful for them, and the things in your life. In this way, it can help you make friends and deepen connections, further boosting your support circle, and making you feel more confident.

 

In a career setting, rather than being critical and cynical, and moaning about the negative aspects of your job, gratitude can help you search for the gift. Yes, you may have had a tough and stressful Thursday, but what’s the learning? What part of your job do you like? Gratitude can also make you more effective as a manager, by being more sincere with your team. It can even rewire your brain to work towards goal achievement, because you are noticing your ‘wins’ more often.

 

3 – Gratitude improves your relationships

 

Studies show that people who practice gratitude, are in turn more kind and friendly. This means you are more affable in your day-to-day interactions with colleagues, friends, family and strangers. In a mirrored way, people often respond similarly, so it will attract more kindness into your life.

 

 

Gratitude helps us to notice kindness in others. Naturally, you want to reciprocate their pro-social behaviour, so it turns into a kindness loop.

 

In marriage, the Losada ratio is used to quantify typical interactions in love relationships. It divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement, and appreciation) by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism). Marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positivity ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).

 

With those points in mind, how about mindfully noticing the negative comments you have, and next time choosing whether you want to say them, or how you want to phrase them? Ultimately, it will make you a more friendly person to be around!

 

How to practice gratitude

 

Idea #1 – Photography

 

Take a photo every day of something you’re grateful for. Nothing is too small. Whether that’s a good cup of coffee, your favourite shoes, a beautiful sunset or a tasty dinner you cooked with fresh ingredients. Taking the time to compose the photo can make you focus, and feel thankful for that thing you’re grateful for in that moment.

 

 

The great thing about photography is you can use your phone. We love the smartphone app  1 Second Everyday which prompts you to capture a 1-second video every day.

 

Idea #2 - Gratitude journal

 

It might feel like an extra thing on your to-do list, but this exercise takes only five minutes, and it’s a brilliant way to pause and reflect on the positives of your day.

 

 

Three things I’m grateful for:

-

-

-

 

Three things I am most proud of:

-

-

-

 

What made me smile today?

-

-

-

 

Dedicate a special notebook for this exercise. The more regular you write, the better, because it’s a positivity loop that increases the feeling over time. We suggest you take some quiet time just before you go to sleep to reflect on your day.

 

Idea #3 – Tell someone why you appreciate them

 

The act of appreciation to others helps you to notice how other people impact your own life, and gives them a boost in confidence too.

 

 

Saying ‘Thank you’ could be at work, at home or messaging a friend you haven’t seen for a while. It’s a great skill to acknowledge those that made a positive impact in your life, and also on a day-to-day level when someone helped you out with a task or a bad day.

 

It could be a conscious deliberate statement when you look someone in the eyes, smile, and say ‘Hey, thank you for your great work on x for that project. It shows me how hard working you are,’ or ‘Thank you for listening to me when I want to talk through my ideas, it helped me clarify my thoughts and tells me what a thoughtful, patient person you are.’ At home, you could acknowledge the small things like, ‘Thanks for picking up the groceries for dinner. I really appreciate it!’ Sometimes short and sweet does the trick.

 

Over to you

 

Does this resonate with you? Great!

 

So pause right now. Take a deep breath in.  And breathe out.

 

Now, make a conscious intention to yourself.

 

Say out loud, “I am thankful every day for the gifts in my life.”

 

Now make it happen! I wish you success in actively making this a part of your self-care routine.

 

See 31 Benefits of Gratitude: The Ultimate Science-Backed Guide for all scientific references

 

Written by Jess

 

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