There are a plethora of human emotions that can be considered universal in one way or another. One of these is gratitude. Gratitude is a human feeling that transcends culture, despite different cultures having various expressions of it. There are many benefits to gratitude, and one of the most important is that it reminds us to be thankful in our lives.
But before we go deeper on the benefits of gratitude and how we can practice it, let’s first define what gratitude is.
Table of Contents
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a powerful emotion accompanied by appreciation. It is a condition that makes a person thankful for something. Gratitude can also refer to the conscious act of being thankful for what you already have in your life.
Examples of what you may express gratitude for includes your health, family, friends, relationships, work-life, or home life. When you begin to realize how much you actually have to be grateful for in your present situation, your outlook on life can positively change.
How Can You Practice Gratitude?
There are many quick and simple ways to practice gratitude daily, examples include:
- As soon as you wake up, be thankful that you can experience another day and take a few minutes to think about what else in your life that you can be grateful for.
- Practice meditation that focuses on gratitude.
- A gratitude journal can dramatically change your day. Use it to document what experiences you have had that day that you can be grateful for.
- Practice mindfulness throughout the day. Be aware of what you are experiencing there and then, and be grateful for it.
- At the end of each day when you go to bed, reflect on your achievements, successes, and what you have to be grateful for that day.
What are the Benefits of Practicing Gratitude?
Given the number of ways we can express and practice gratitude in our lives, it’s not surprising that doing so has a positive effect on us. Here are 7 benefits of gratitude that will make you thankful for your life.
Happiness is an important feeling that humans strive to achieve, and there is evidence to suggest that practicing gratitude can help you to do this. If you focus on what you are grateful for in life, then you are, in fact, focusing on what makes you happy.
There are studies on how practicing gratitude can lead to a happier life. It has been found that gratitude enables the mind to compensate for the brain’s innate tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life, such as worry. Gratitude then replaces this with positive emotions, such as love and joy, which in turn promotes happiness.
Gratitude catapults us into happiness because gratitude is our true nature—and so is happiness. Gratitude and happiness are not actually two different things—they can be considered as one and the same.
When you’re grateful, you will be happy, and when you’re happy you are automatically grateful. At the end of the day, all that anyone of us wants is happiness, and the easiest, fastest way to happiness is through gratitude. Remain grateful, and you will live your whole life in happiness.
The notion of The Law Of Attraction (like attracts like) helps us understand how gratitude can promote happiness. If you are grateful for what makes you happy in your life, then you will attract more happiness. If you practice gratitude, then you are opening your mind to positivity—and so the law of attraction suggests that more positivity will come your way.
2. Improved Sleep
Practicing gratitude can promote an improvement in your sleep. It has already been stated that gratitude promotes positivity. When you are in bed and ready to sleep, it is a time when your mind can work overtime. You may go over worries that have accumulated throughout the day and negative thoughts may rise to the surface.
However, if you have written in your gratitude journal just before getting into bed and have spent a few minutes focusing on the successes and achievements of that day, there is very little reason or space for negativity to come to mind.
The result is a peaceful positive mind that is ready for a quality night’s sleep, rather than a mind dwelling on the negatives and worries of that day. Furthermore, a meditation focused on gratitude can prepare your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.
3. You May Save Money
Being grateful for what you already have in life that money cannot buy, such as family, friends, and relationships may lead to you living a life where you find more joy in less materialistic things.
Previously, you may have thought that a new item, jewelry, or clothing may make you happy if you are feeling low. Once you practice gratitude, you may now feel that a nice walk in the countryside with your family can bring you greater happiness and more satisfaction. Gratitude provides you with the opportunity to reflect on what you have, not what you want.
4. Improved Relationships With Your Family, Friends, and Partner
At some point in any relationship, you may feel that you are having more lows than highs. You may irritate each other with your habits or traits. The other person may take their stresses out on you and you may be arguing more than usual. Practicing gratitude for that person and your relationship can help you to begin focusing more on the positives and what that relationship brings to you rather than the negatives.
You never know, you may actually find that the relationship brings more benefits to your life than you originally thought, and you may appreciate that relationship more than ever before.
5. Improved Mental Health
Gratitude is a state of mind and an attitude. If a person shifts from a negative state of mind where they have feelings such as anxiety and depression to a more positive state of mind using gratitude, then they can greatly improve their mental health.
Gratitude involves focusing on what you are thankful for in your life. If you have worries and they play on your mind, the worries can seem bigger and less manageable than they actually are. By practicing gratitude, you can put your worries into perspective as you focus on what you already have and are thankful for. You can then go on to manage life’s challenges from a more positive mindset, and you may find that these challenges are easier to manage.
Leading on from this, your self-esteem may also improve. If you are feeling better about your situation, then this in turn can make you feel better about yourself.
Research has also shown that “by consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension.”
The simple act of reminding yourself of the positive things in your life—even as simple as the roof over your head or food on your plate—can invoke feelings of thankfulness and optimism that make managing stress, depression, or anxiety easier.
6. Physical Health
As a result of an improvement in mental health by practicing daily gratitude, your physical health can also be improved. If you are in a healthy mental state, then you are more likely to be motivated to want to look after yourself physically, and this can lead to you taking more exercise or eating healthier. Yoga can be a great way to improve your physical health and mindset.
Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
7. Career Benefits
The benefits of practicing gratitude in your personal life can carry over to your work life automatically. For example, reduced stress and a generally better sense of well-being in your personal life reflect on your work-life by enabling you to concentrate better at work and not be preoccupied with personal problems.
However, there are specific benefits to your work life that gratitude can bring. These can include finding meaning in your work, which in turn enables you to feel that your work has an impact on others in a positive way. This can then improve productivity because you feel that your work is making a difference and is worthwhile.
Work generally takes up a large part of your day. You may be with your work colleagues for more time than you are with your family. This part of the day can be made more positive and meaningful by practicing gratitude, which can help you to want to get out of bed in the morning to go to work.
Gratitude is a mindset that can be achieved by making it a simple habit that forms part of your daily routine, and the bonus is that it is not time-consuming. Gratitude can improve your whole well-being, induce a sense of fulfillment, and make a huge impact in many areas of your life.
If a simple habit can improve your happiness, sleep, relationships, financial situation, physical health, mental health, and career, then make the conscious effort to start practicing gratitude today and spread the word.
More Articles About Practicing Gratitude
- 8 Amazing Things Will Happen When You Start Practicing Gratitude
- What Is Gratitude and Why Is It Important?
Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com