A few weeks ago, I wrote about things that I’m grateful for. In that post I touched upon the benefits of being grateful. I wanted to expand on that and dive deeper into the benefits of gratefulness.
The Science of Gratefulness
According to the Harvard Education website on health, two psychologists, Dr Emmons and Dr McCullough have conducted researched into gratitude and its effect on our wellbeing.
In a study they conducted, they asked one group of people to record things they were grateful for. They asked another group to write things that irritated them. Unsurprisingly, the group they asked to record things they were grateful for, felt better about their lives and themselves after the ten-week experiment.
In other studies researchers have found that when we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters responsible for emotions. They make us feel good. The studies showed that a person who practices gratefulness regularly strengthens these neural pathways. This leads to a more permanent, grateful and positive nature. You can read more about the neuroscience of gratitude here.
The Benefits of Being Grateful
Having a grateful mindset and practising gratitude, benefits all the areas of our lives, including our emotions, personality, social and work-life as well as physical wellbeing.
- A grateful attitude can make us feel happier. When we notice what we have in our lives rather than what we haven’t, can help us feel more positive about our lives. It can support our emotional wellbeing by enhancing positive emotions and supporting our self-esteem.
- It can keep a boost to our social life. Who would you rather hang out with? Someone who continuously complains about their life and the daily grind, or someone who notices the positive things in their life? When we are happy, we can make the people around us feel happier, too. Isn’t there a saying about love spreading love? Or is it that happiness spreads happiness? Either way sounds good to me.
- A grateful attitude can improve the relationships we have in our lives. When we show gratitude to friends, family and our partners, we can strengthen those relationships. We can also get more support from them when times are tough with a little more gratitude in our lives.
- Practising gratefulness can also make us more optimistic. I definitely noticed this during the months of treatments that followed my diagnosis. Once I was able to be grateful for all the things I have, including the fantastic support network of family and friends, I felt more optimistic about the treatments, my chances of beating the disease and the future.
- Being grateful can also improve our working life. It can help us find more meaning in what we do and reduce work related stress.
- An attitude of gratitude can also help us get physically fitter and healthier. It can help us sleep better, reduce blood pressure and depressive thoughts. It can even help us exercise more. The jury is still out on that last one, especially now that the weather has turned more miserable… Still trying to keep up with regular, longer bike rides, but I must admit it is harder to find that motivation when it’s windy and rainy. Anyone else finding the same?
I have included some of the benefits of gratefulness in this post. For more in-depth information on the benefits and the science behind it, I recommend these websites:
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