It's the week of Thanksgiving, and we're feeling all of the gratitude vibes. Being the wellness enthusiasts that we are, we're wondering exactly how gratitude affects the body and how, scientifically, it helps with our health and happiness.
According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, gratitude is a state of mind that we attain by affirming the good things that enter our lives and appreciating even the smallest pleasures.
Gratitude is a common theme in the wellness community, and anyone with a regular practice, whether it's yoga, gratitude journaling, or prayer, is familiar with its power. But how far does it reach? Can it really make you happy or help you heal? According to science: yes. Gratitude might just be the most important tool we have to maintain our health and happiness, year-round.
Gratitude will increase your sense of well-being daily.
A study of 365 college students linked emotional intelligence to feelings of gratitude and suggested that gratitude can be used to directly create a sense of well-being. Uncovering this link suggests that gratitude is more than just a feeling we can cultivate or a virtue some of us possess—it's a tool. And it's accessible to anyone, at any time.
Adopting a gratitude practice isn't just about appreciating a promotion at work or a friend's kind action; it's about maintaining a certain level of wholeness no matter what life throws at us. The best part? It doesn't have to be difficult. According to another study, you might be able to increase your well-being through simple exercises that foster more gratitude. Try starting with one of these 25 ways to practice gratitude.
Gratitude can help you prevent disease long-term.
Some studies have shown that gratefulness is related to a lower risk of depression. Our ability to positively reframe a situation can act like a mechanism for increasing gratitude and decreasing depressive symptoms. And while these researchers were studying specific populations of people with chronic disease, it seems logical to assume that this mechanism could be more universal.
Gratitude is considered an important trait in maintaining good health and has been associated with lower blood pressure and better immune function. Many scientists are calling for more research to figure out just exactly what role gratitude plays in the prevention of disease. As frequent gratitude practitioners, we can definitely get on board with that!
Gratitude can help you heal from emotional trauma.
Feelings of appreciation might also play a role in your mental health, especially when you are healing from a stressful event. According to scientists, gratitude acts like a protective mechanism, and expressing more gratitude after a trauma can lead to a more positive outcome and prevent symptoms of PTSD.
But how do we force ourselves to practice gratitude in the face of tragedy? It's helpful to know that the amount of appreciation we show in our lives (deceptively) has nothing to do with our current circumstances. And so, it's always the right time to begin—and start benefiting from—a gratitude practice. If you aren't sure where to start, try this morning gratitude meditation; it's been shown to boost serotonin, setting a wonderful tone for the day.
Use gratitude as a tool for happiness—and not just on Thanksgiving.
According to recent research, happiness is more than just an emotion. It can change the way we see the whole world. A positive mood can shift your entire perception by allowing you to think more globally, and when you see the big picture, those little things will bother you a bit less.
It's really no surprise that gratitude is a central theme in almost every religion. And this week is the perfect time to focus on the things that unite us all. So remember that no win is too small to celebrate, and no moment is too quick to relish. Gratitude is a tool we can all use to stay healthy, increase our sense of well-being, and transform our thinking.
"If you only say one prayer in a day, make it thank you." —Rumi