5 Surprising Benefits of Gratefulness

4/19/2014 12:10:55 AM

Are you a grateful person? Most of us would like to think we are--but how often are we really? Gratitude is the simple attitude (and act) of showing appreciation and thankfulness. It doesn’t take a lot of our time or effort to be thankful, but it holds incredible benefits both for the one expressing it and the person (or people) receiving it. There are many benefits of a grateful heart; here are some that might surprise you:

1.    Just 15 minutes a day focusing on the things you’re grateful for will boost your body’s antibodies and contribute to a strengthened immune system. This means that a more thankful, appreciative heart and mind make for a healthier body. Wow! 
2.    Grateful people are more focused mentally and therefore measurably less vulnerable to clinical depression.
3.     Gratitude induces a physiological state of mind called “resonance,” often associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rate. Recent studies have shown that people who participate in “gratitude practices” (see more about these below) go to the doctor less often.
4.     Gratitude can help you relax. Gratitude and other positive emotions are some of the strongest relaxants there are. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take some time to focus on the things you’re grateful for. It could help minimize the stressors in your life and cause you to be an all around less-stressed person.
5.     Gratitude can help your relationships. Being grateful can create more positive interactions with your spouse or partner. Expressing your appreciation for them will most likely make them happy, which will in turn create yet another positive interaction between the two of you. When positive interactions (compliments, encouragement, affirmations) greatly outweigh the negative ones (sarcasm, disagreements, criticism), a relationship becomes strong and fulfilling.
When you’re grateful, you focus your mind on pleasant, positive thoughts (“gratitude practices”). A gratitude practice that many find helpful is keeping a gratitude journal. Consider taking five to ten minutes out of your daily routine to write down in a journal the things you are grateful for. This helps you appreciate the things that are happening around you and the people surrounding you. It prevents you from developing an “entitlement” mindset (the feeling that everyone owes you something). It also raises your happiness quotient!
Thankful people make the people around them happier, too, and ultimately attract more friends and opportunities as a result. Have you taken on any “gratitude practices?” How has it affected you and others?