Gratitude. Such a simple word with so much power. Gratitude is the act of giving thanks and having an appreciation for the things in your life, either tangible or intangible. Research has shown that gratitude increases happiness, helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Below is a list of five science-based reasons why gratitude is good for everyone in all settings.
- Gratitude is good for the long-term: Scientists studying positive psychology found that a one-time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10% increase in happiness and 35% reduction in depressive symptoms. The happy effects disappeared within three to six months, which shows that gratitude is an act to be repeated again and again. So, do one thing today to show your gratitude for someone. Engage in a random act of kindness. Not only will you reap the immediate benefits, but you will continue to reap those benefits for the next three months!
- Gratitude is good for your health: Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami conducted a study that had participants write down things they were grateful for throughout the week, and another group write down their irritations. At the end of the study, the gratitude group reported feeling more optimistic and better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer trips to the doctor than the irritated group. Basically, what you focus on becomes your reality. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on your blessings rather than your irritations, you will be amazed at the results.
- Gratitude is good for kids: A study on gratitude and children as reported in the Journal of Psychology revealed that adolescents practicing gratitude reported more optimism and life satisfaction than the group who focused on their hassles. But, the biggest surprise of their finding was the relationship between gratitude and higher satisfaction with the school experience. We all know that the school years can be difficult, gratitude is a simple way to make those years a little easier!
- Gratitude is good for employers: Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that employers who say thank you to the people that work for them may find their employees are motivated to work harder. “Researchers randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group—assigned to work on a different day—received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.” Everyone appreciates being appreciated! Creating a culture of gratitude in the workplace not only can increase motivation but can strengthen employee relationships and retention.
- Gratitude is good for relationships: A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who feel more appreciated by their romantic partners report being more appreciative of their partners. In turn, people who are more appreciative of their partners report being more responsive to their partner’s needs and are more committed and more likely to remain in their relationships over time. If that isn’t enough for you, a new study in “The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” by Dr. Amie Gordon of U.C. Berkeley found that couples who express gratitude and appreciation for one another tend to be more committed, have more sex, and be less likely to break up. In a nutshell, gratitude is the key to a happy, healthy, intimacy-filled marriage.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a simple, yet powerful way to enhance all areas of your life. Give it a try, but just be prepared for the side-effects of love, joy, satisfaction and living a more fulfilled life!