Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Going around the table asking family members what they’re thankful for may be a tradition in your household, and there are a number of reasons why doing so feels so good. Giving thanks, it turns out, has some major health benefits. Research has linked gratitude with an increase in self-esteem, resiliency and overall life satisfaction. It can also help you build new friendships and strengthen the relationships you already have. Researchers are investigating how positive emotions can lower disease and mortality in older adults. Even among people with serious illnesses like heart disease, those who practice gratitude tend to be less depressed than those who don’t.
Science has discovered that people who practice gratitude experience the following:
- Grateful people are 25% happier than those who do not practice gratitude.
- Being grateful and happy can add as much as 9 years to your life!
- When practicing gratitude, you will experience higher levels of positive emotions such as love, happiness, and optimism.
- By writing down thoughts of gratitude each day, you will have fewer illnesses because gratitude strengthens the immune system.
- Expressing gratitude will restore the natural rhythm of your heart.
- When we are grateful, we “bounce back” from stressful situations faster.
You can make gratitude part of your life by being thankful to those who help you, and by being mindful and appreciative of what’s important to you. Although it may feel strange to “practice” gratitude, over time it becomes a natural part of life. Don’t worry if gratitude doesn’t come naturally. In the same way you work out to build stronger muscles, you can also strengthen your gratitude muscle by
- keeping a gratitude journal or meditating briefly on what you’re grateful for
- concentrating on the good in your life
- reaching out to thank friends and family for being there, or for gifts or favors received
- starting a family gratitude ritual: have everyone list something they’re thankful for that day
- thanking strangers who have done something nice