This month we are raising awareness of the positive implications of Gratitude. Many people who practice or feel gratitude in their daily lives feel happier and healthier.
Our lives are busy, often stressed and can be overwhelmed with petty details or issues that may seem important in that moment yet are not life changing. We tend to focus on the negative and forget to appreciate the positive when there are so many blessings around us. Feeling gratitude is not only important for a more positive emotional and psychological perspective, but as science is finding to our overall health.
Grateful individuals experience a wide variety of social and psychological health benefits (see e.g., Emmons & Mishra, 2011; Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010 for a review). However, few studies have examined whether dispositional gratitude might also predict physical health benefits. One possible reason is that the pathways between gratitude and physical health are less easily described than those between the trait and either social or psychological health. The current study sought to test whether grateful individuals report better physical health, and explain why these effects might occur, focusing on psychological health and health behaviors as possible intervening mechanisms. Moreover, we tested whether these pathways differ across adulthood, following recent suggestions in the personality and health literature (Hill & Roberts, 2011).(1)
This study concluded that “Dispositional gratitude predicted better self-reported physical health.”(2)
How does gratitude impact our health?
By focusing on the things we appreciate, we tend to dismiss the negative and the stress that is related to those things. Stress is unhealthy.
It causes all types of health issues and leads to unhealthy behaviors.
Gratitude helps people feel happier and these feelings generate proactive and a more preventative lifestyle choices.
“Gratitude…can be an incredibly powerful and invigorating experience,” says researcher Jeff Huffman. “There is growing evidence that being grateful may not only bring good feelings. It could lead to better health.” (2)
It’s ironic that science is just confirming what makes just good common sense. When your life and energy is directed towards positive thinking and activities, it makes you happy.
But what do you do if you’re in an unhappy or unhealthy situation now?
It’s often hard to find those bright spots when you’re not feeling grateful or happy. Take a step back and think about the positive in your life and focus on that. If you’re having issues finding anything, seek support from others as closer intimate relationships or interactions lead to happiness and more gratitude.
Are you truly grateful for the good things in your life—or do you take them for granted?
Take the Quiz: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/take_quiz/gratitude
Grateful people are happy people, research shows. But how grateful are you? To find out—and discover steps for promoting even more gratitude in your life—take this quiz, which is based on a scale developed by psychologists Mitchel Adler and Nancy Fagley. (4)