An Attitude of Gratitude Is Good for Our Health
Each year during November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. For many of us, the celebration has been different this year and last as we are taking care to be safe during the pandemic. But even with the challenges we’ve faced, this is a good time to take stock of our lives and think about things for which we are grateful.
Research shows giving thanks may actually improve our health
Numerous studies have shown that practicing gratitude regularly can provide numerous benefits for the mind, body and spirit. These include reducing depression, improving heart health, building self-esteem, lowering inflammation and even strengthening memory.
Studies also show that feeling gratitude is linked, in particular, with healthy aging. “Gratitude highlights feelings of interdependence in the social world,” explained Dr. Iva Kavedzija of the University of Exeter in the UK, who conducted research among Japanese elders. “As people move through their later years, many experience a sense of loss. But if one habitually invokes the involvement of others and their role in one’s life, one is reminded how much other people have helped them, in countless small and more substantive ways.”
Yet practicing gratitude can be difficult. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the challenges of day-to-day life and to become discouraged. With that in mind, here are some tips to promote an attitude of gratitude that will last far beyond Thanksgiving Day:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, make a list of things you’re grateful for. Becoming more conscious of all you have to be thankful for is a great way to focus your attention on those things that make you happy and fulfilled.
- Surround yourself with visual cues. Once you’ve identified those things for which you’re grateful, keep visual cues of those things where you can see them often. This could be photographs of loved ones or other people you like, a sticky note with a list, or souvenirs from a wonderful vacation.
- Share your attitude of gratitude with others. We all like to feel appreciated. And studies show that expressing appreciation and gratitude to others also benefits the person who does the thanking! Expressing gratitude not only bolsters relationships, but also promotes overall emotional and even physical health.
Baylor University professor Jo-Ann Tsang explains, “Gratitude is a positive mood. It’s about other people. People are motivated to help people that help them—and to help others as well. We’re social creatures, and so focusing on others in a positive way is good for our health.”
When we shift our attention to those things that bring us joy, we decrease our stress and improve our mood. The simple act of giving thanks is something we can do to measurably improve our lives. That in itself is something for which to be grateful!