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Showing Gratitude to Change Your Attitude

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December 18, 2019 | Published by


In 2019, Julie Ray of the Gallup Organizations stated that “The world took a negative turn in 2017, with global levels of stress, worry, sadness and pain hitting new heights”. Often, we struggle with these omnipresent issues on a daily basis only to ask ourselves “what can be done.”1

Showing gratitude has perceivable welcome effects on those upon whom it’s expressed. After all, letting someone know you’re thankful for them and the things they’ve done is an appreciable act of kindness. But recent studies are showing there may be more of a positive impact on the givers end than once believed.1

In one study, two groups were gathered to write a letter every week for three weeks. The first group’s letters were of gratitude while the second group’s letters consisted of thoughts and feelings of negative experiences. A third group was gathered which didn’t write anything.

The group that wrote the letter of gratitude’s counseling results came back showing “significantly better mental health for as many as 12 weeks” after the study ended. Additionally, the study showed that practicing gratitude combined with counseling is more beneficial than counseling alone.1

Researchers also analyzed their findings to find out how gratitude had these affects. Their findings showed:

  • Gratitude disconnects us from toxic, negative emotions and the ruminating that often goes along with them. Writing a letter “shifts our attention” so that our focus is on positive emotions.
  • Expressing gratitude helps us even if we don’t explicitly share it with someone. We’re happier and more satisfied with life because we completed the exercise.
  • The positive effects of gratitude writing compound like interest. You might not notice the benefit of a daily or weekly practice, but after several weeks and months, you will.
  • A gratitude practice trains the brain to be more in tune with experiencing gratitude — a positive plus a positive equal more positives.1

Gratitude has other benefits, as well. It can aide us socially and even physically. Some advantages include2:

Physical

  • Enhanced immune systems
  • Less inconvenienced by aches and pains
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Individuals tended to get more physical exercise
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological

  • Elevated levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated

There are more ways to show gratitude than writing a letter every week. There are many ways you can show your gratitude. Some examples are:

  • Say a kind word to someone
  • Involve others in your plans
  • Listen intently
  • Bring someone lunch or a snack
  • Pay an impromptu visit
  • Check in via email
  • Call to say hello and catch up
  • Offer any help you may be able to give
  • Deliver flowers
  • Offer to do an errand

While gratitude has evident benefits, it isn’t always easy to put into practice. Often psychological tendencies can get in the way of our thankfulness. One example is the “Self-serving bias.” This is blaming other people or circumstances other than ourselves when bad things happen to us, and only acknowledging the good things as our own sole doing.

Another example is the “just-world” hypothesis which posits that only good things happen to good people, while bad things happen to bad people.2

The health benefits of gratitude to ourselves and others are numerous, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy habit to keep. There are countless books, apps, workbooks and journals on gratitude available for you to make it an easier quality to practice in your everyday life. Exhibit your gratitude today and show others that you care while benefiting your own health!

References:

  1. Miller, K. 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science. Positive Psychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/
  2. Emmons, R. Why Gratitude is Good. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good
  3. Kane, S. 10 Ways to Express Gratitude. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/blog/10-ways-to-express-gratitude/

 


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