5 Scientific Facts that Prove Gratitude is Good for You

Just in time for Thanksgiving

Nov 28, 2013

Image from Flickr user shannonkringen

The holiday of Thanksgiving contains two of our favorite words – thanks and giving. While many focus on the meal or the football game, it's the idea of gratitude and designating a national holiday to give thanks that is even more intriguing.
Thanksgiving serves as a time to reflect and take stock of all the positive things in life, and as it turns out, there is scientific proof that being grateful is plain good for you. Here are five ways to integrate scientifically endorsed gratitude into your life.

1. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU'RE GRATEFUL FOR


Scientists performed an experiment in which they asked one group of people to write down the things that they were grateful for on a weekly basis, while the other group recorded hassles or neutral life events. The folks who kept gratitude journals exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were generally more optimistic about the upcoming week - compared to their negatively focused counterparts.
START TODAY: At the end of each day, write down one great thing that happened. Use a notebook or keep a digital log on your computer or smartphone.

Image from Flickr user djking

2. EVEN A SINGLE ACT OF KINDNESS CAN GO A LONG WAY


Scientists studying positive psychology found that a one-time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10% increase in happiness and 35% reduction in depressive symptoms. The happy effects disappeared within three to six months which shows that gratitude is an act to be repeated again and again.
START TODAY: Every act of gratitude counts - and it can be as small as saying thank you or telling someone important how much they mean to you. For a bit of motivation, check out a Goodnet favorite and peruse The Global Appreciation Project.

Image from Flickr user MTSOfan

3. IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START PRACTICING GRATITUDE 


Psychologist and researcher Jeffrey Froh created and implemented a gratitude curriculum for kids aged 8 to 11. The youngsters who received the lessons showed an increase in grateful thinking, appreciation and positive emotions as compared to their classmates who did not partake. The lessons had long-lasting effects, with differences between the two groups at their greatest five months after the program.
START TODAY: Lead by example and introduce the concept of gratitude to young people around you.  At your next meal where kids are present, go around the table and say something that each person is thankful for – we bet the answers will move you!  

Image from Flickr user -JosephB-

4. GRATITUDE CAN BOOST A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP 


While being grateful is good for you, being on the receiving end of it can do wonders for your romantic relationships! A recent study found that after receiving gratitude, participants noticed that their partner was more responsive to their needs and overall more satisfied with their relationship. Gratitude was showsn to have had a long-term effect that was seen six to nine months later.
START TODAY: While mornings can be a hectic time before heading out of the house, make it a point to tell your partner how much you care about them.

Image from Flickr user rashida coleman-hale

5. SAYING THANK YOU IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS 


When was the last time you said thank you to a colleague? According to research by psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Ginoa thank you can go a long way. Especially if you are in a supervisory position, expressing your thanks for a job well done can make your employees feel a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. The study also revealed that being grateful has a ripple effect, leading to an increase in trust between colleagues and more initiative to help one another out.
START TODAY: Acknowledge a colleague for their professional contributions with a genuine heartfelt thank you.

Image from Flickr user Flower Factor

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