What Is Gratitude?
Gratitude has two key components; it’s an affirmation of goodness-that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits that we have received.
It’s also the recognition that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We can acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—give us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives. Gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people. Gratitude encourages us not only to appreciate gifts but to repay them or pay them forward.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Over the past decade, hundreds of studies have documented the social, physical, and psychological benefits of gratitude. The research suggests these benefits are available to most anyone who practices gratitude, even in the midst of adversity. Here are just some of the top research-based reasons for practicing gratitude.
- Gratitude brings us happiness: Practicing gratitude has proven to be one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness and life satisfaction; it also boosts feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions.
- On the flip side, gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression.
- Gratitude is good for our bodies: Studies suggest gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and makes us less bothered by aches and pains. It also encourages us to exercise more and take better care of our health.
- Grateful people sleep better: They get more hours of sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more refreshed upon awakening. If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.
- Gratitude makes us more resilient and strengthens our relationships.
How Can We Cultivate Gratitude?
Feeling grateful is a skill we can develop with practice, reaping its rewards along the way. One specific, science-based activity for cultivating gratitude is to express something that you are grateful for, in writing and we invite you to do so here!
For more tips on developing a gratitude practice, please contact Leith Colton, our Community Wellness Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.