The Health Benefits of Gratitude

December 8, 2017

 

The holiday season is the perfect time to give thanks, express gratitude, and celebrate family, friends, food, and connection. But research suggests that gratitude is something we should cultivate on a daily basis, not just during the holidays.  Experiencing gratitude is strongly related to well-being, leading to physical, psychological, and interpersonal benefits. It is a powerful force that we can use to expand our joy and happiness, create loving relationships, and improve our health.

 

People who cultivate a grateful outlook tend to:

• feel better about their lives as a whole and more optimistic about the future

• have more energy, enthusiasm, determination and focus

• make greater progress toward achieving personal goals

• sleep better and awake feeling refreshed

• exercise more regularly

• feel stronger and more resilient during challenging times

• get sick less often and experience fewer symptoms of stress

• enjoy closer family bonds and more positive social relationships

 

Here are three ways to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis:

1. Keep a gratitude journal – make a list of things for which you are grateful.  By consciously focusing your attention on life’s blessings, you invite more goodness into our life.

2. Write a thank you letter – write a letter to someone who has had a profound and positive impact on you.  Express gratitude for all the gifts you've received from that person. If possible, deliver your thank you letter in person.

3. Take a gratitude walk – set aside 20-30 minutes to walk in your neighborhood, a park, around your office or somewhere in nature. Pay attention and be mindful of all of your senses – seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, maybe even tasting. Notice all of the things you can be grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.

 

 

References:

 

Emmons, R.A., and M.E. McCullough. 2003. Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective wellbeing in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol 84(2):377-89.

 

Wood, A.M., J.J. Froh, and A.W.A. Geraghty. 2010. Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clin Psychol Rev 30(7): 890-905.

 

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