Gratitude is the act of feeling and expressing your appreciation or thanks in the present moment. Positive psychologists define gratitude as a deeper appreciation and consider it to be an extremely important positive emotion.
Here are 20 reasons Gratitude is important for a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
- Gratitude shares the same etymology as the word grace- the Latin gratus.
- Friedrich Nietzsche said that ‘the essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.’
- In his book Attitudes of Gratitude, M. J. Ryan writes that gratitude is a stance that we choose to take through the good times and bad.
- Gratitude is ‘an affirmation of goodness’ according to Robert A. Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, and it allows us to ‘recognise that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves’. It’s important, he says, that ‘we acknowledge that other people- or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset- gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve goodness in our lives.’
- Emmons confirms through his research that gratitude improves depression. It creates neurochemical changes and affects the reward and emotional centres in the brain in the same way antidepressants do.
- Emmons along with other researchers agree that because gratitude requires us to see how other people support us, it is a ‘relationship-strengthening emotion.’
- Gratitude is ‘the moral memory of mankind’ because it encourages us to pay it forward says Sociologist Georg Simmel.
- Gratitude improves our social capital, increasing trust, likeability and enjoyment of social interactions. A 2014 study published in Emotion showed that thanking someone you have just met increases their desire to continue a relationship with you.
- Gratitude increases prosocial behaviour. A 2012 study by the University of Kentucky found that those who showed higher levels of gratitude had less of a desire to seek revenge and displayed sensitivity and empathy even after they were given less kind and negative feedback.
- Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien said that gratitude is ‘one of the great arms of love.’
- Author of bestseller ‘The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want’ and Professor of Psychology, Sonia Lyubomirsky, says that practising gratitude creates a positive mindset and increases happiness, optimism and vitality.
- The research of Shelly Gable, a professor of psychology shows links between gratitude, cholesterol, blood pressure and biomarkers. She says that this is because ‘having healthy social ties is good for your physical health, whereas loneliness and feeling disconnected … is linked to illness and mortality.’
- A study published in Gratitude: Effect on Perspectives and Blood Pressure of Inner-city African-American Hypertensive Patients showed that patients with hypertension who were asked to count their blessings experienced significant decreases in systolic blood pressure.
- A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that gratitude makes you more likely to exercise and experience better health with fewer aches and pains.
- According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes at night helps you sleep better and for longer.
- Gratitude journals create feelings of gratitude which in turn produce positive feedback loops. Writing in a gratitude journal for five minutes daily improves your well-being by 10% after six months, which is the same as if you were to double your income.
- In a 2014 study published in Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, gratitude was found to increase the self-esteem of athletes which was a major consideration in performance.
- Gratitude helps in the recovery of those who have experienced trauma. In a 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy, war veterans who exhibited higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Gratitude increases resilience. In a 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, gratitude had a major impact on resilience after the September 11 attacks.
- Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, says that ‘gratefulness is the inner gesture of giving meaning to our life by receiving life as gift.’
You can choose to complain about what is not working and you do not have or focus on what is working and the many gifts and blessings you enjoy each and every day that you are alive.
Anyone can express and feel gratitude, it is just a matter of making a decision to do so. Just stop for a few moments and think about what you have in your life- there is sure to be plenty.
I thank you for taking the time to read this post.
If you are looking for further guidance on practising gratitude, you can download the free guide Meditation Boleh! and receive a bonus gratitude practice in audio format.
Now tell me in the comments below what you are grateful for today.