Gratitude helps with everything. It is always an answer. And while it feels to me that everywhere I turn I find someone singing the praises of gratitude, I will add my voice to the choir, again and again, because it is perhaps the most easy and direct route toward happiness in any area of your life.
In this post I’ll share 5 ways that gratitude helps with everything.
1. What you appreciate appreciates.
In other words, you get more of what you focus on, especially if you appreciate it. While it’s true that any attention on a subject is better than no attention (just think of a misbehaving kid who can only get her parents’ attention by acting out or an unlikely celebrity who is elected president), positive attention is even better if you’re looking for more of something.
We are exposed to countless stimuli on a moment to moment basis and it’s truly up to us what we choose to let in to define our reality. Attend to more positive stuff and you’ll see more of it. Whether that means noticing how your partner comes through for you more, all of the opportunities that you continue to have in your life, your health or simply the fact that you can breathe in fresh air, appreciate it! Enjoy it.
Gratitude can come through for you in the best of situations to help you milk them to the fullest of their glory and potential, and can save you in the worst of situations to help you recognize something positive and help keep you afloat if you’re really going through something difficult.
2. It’s an instant mood boost and counters worry on the spot.
Piles of research show us that people who pay more attention to what their grateful for reap the rewards by experiencing greater happiness. Further, when you’re really immersed in a state of gratitude for something, you can’t also be worried or feel some other more negative emotion at the same time.
Certainly, remaining in a state of gratitude is a practice, especially if you have any ongoing problems with anxiety. However, embracing fleeting moments of gratitude is a great start to shifting your moment to moment existence, especially if you have challenge yourself to experience more and more of it.
A gratitude journal where you record a number of things you appreciate daily is a great place to start.
3. It improves your physical health.
You may know that mental health and physical health are one in the same, but still may think of “happiness” as being separate from “heart” or “digestive” health. Gratitude has been shown to help not only create a more sunshiney mood, but also have effects on physical health.
Some studies from University of California Davis and San Diego demonstrate that practicing greater gratitude has been correlated with lowered blood pressure, improved immunity, better heart health including decreased inflammation of the heart and better sleep.
4. It creates a strong foundation for your most important relationships.
If getting more of what you like in life, feeling happier and being healthier weren’t enough benefits of gratitude, the list goes on. Gratitude, unsurprisingly, is great for your relationships in ways that go beyond the individual perks.
A 2011 study by Nathaniel Lambert and Frank Fincham proposed that expressing gratitude to a partner would increase the positive perception of that person, and therefore lead to greater comfort in expressing concerns in the relationship. Enough safety in a relationship for partners to be free to express their concerns with each other is considered a form of relationship stability.
As Dr. Sue Johnson, creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy, has demonstrated: A solid relationship is built upon a strong emotional bond. Gratitude serves to strengthen that bond and create a safer environment in which partners can express themselves, both positively and negatively.
5. It’s a surefire way to make someone’s day.
Let the people in your life know how much you appreciate them, regardless of how close they are to you. We so often feel positive things for others and hesitate to tell them.
From letting your best friend know how much you appreciate that thoughtful thing they did to liking someone’s business on Facebook and leaving a positive review, you can never go wrong with gratitude.
Lay it on thick, today and always, to create your best relationship not only with the people in your life but with your life itself.