How Gratitude can make everything better
Turns out it’s all about gratitude! And there is tons of research been done on this topic. In this article, I’ll explain what gratitude exactly is, what the benefits are and why it works with some logical en scientific reasoning. Get ready to start appreciating life and boost your happiness!
What is Gratitude: A definition by an Expert
One of the biggest research facilities on the science of a meaningful life is the greater good Science centre at the Berkeley University of California. One of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude is Robert A. Emmons, PhD. With bestselling books as Thanks! And How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity spreads is spreading the word on Gratefulness. (audiobook).
Robert Emmons describes gratitude as a two-part definition. First, It is a testimony of goodness, we acknowledge that there are good things in the world. Second, the source of this goodness comes from outside yourself. Which means that we acknowledge that other
people are helping us to achieve goodness in our lives.
The benefits of being grateful
It can boost your romantic relationship
The outcome of a study published in Personal relationships by researcher Sarah Algoe shows that grateful couples are more satisfied in their relationships and felt closer to each other.
Create a positive echo
Being grateful helps us understands others better and act more pro-socially toward them. What happens is that others feel grateful and most likely act more pro-social towards us. Do you see the loop that is being created here… 😉 It’s safe to say that this is one of the reasons why gratitude shapes strong relationships.
Gratitude can make you more patient and improve decisionmaking
When we appreciate everyday things and are grateful for little gestures. Research shows that we become more patient and improve our ability to make sensible decisions. In an experiment, undergraduate students had a choice between receiving a small amount of money directly or a bigger reward somewhere in the future. Students classified as more grateful from earlier experiments picked a later payday with a bigger reward.
Physical health benefits
Fight-and-flight VS Rest-and-digest
Saying “thank you” doesn’t just help others feel appreciated. It helps our body’s too. Where stress triggers the fight or flight, gratitude activates the rest-and-digest part of our nervous system. The physical reaction to this is lowering in blood pressure, strengthening of the immune system and a reduction in cortisol levels
Enhances the quality and duration of sleep
A mindset of gratitude makes it more likely to go to bed with happy thoughts instead of a worried mind. No explanation is needed which of these thoughts will ease you better into your well-deserved night rest right. Gratitude also triggers what’s called the relaxation response in our nerve system. There are many studies on this subject. All showcasing that a grateful mindset, and especially practising gratitude before bedtime had a positive effect on dozing off and the quality and duration of sleep.
The vitamin-C of our emotions, boosting our immune system
Feeling a bit under the weather? Just one more “thank you” might help you dodging the flew. A research method called HeartMath, which enhances the feeling of appreciation and gratitude, showed a striking result. Levels of immunoglobulin A, a predominant antibody increased convincingly. Good to know is that this antibody is our first line of defence against viruses.
Reduce pain levels
Gratitude is by no means a replacement for painkillers. But research has shown that it can decrease pain levels. happy thoughts produce a soothing effect by stimulation the release of endogenous opioids, a natural painkiller.
Mental health and emotional Benefits
Gratitude deflates a number of toxic emotions
Our mind works in mysterious ways. But one thing is very clear, we are unable to have happy and unhappy feelings at the same time. Try smiling and thinking an unhappy though, it doesn’t feel unhappy, does it? Research from Robert A. Emmons, PhD has shown decreasing feelings of regret, frustration, envy and resentment when practising gratitude.
Gratitude helps you build resilience
Having a bad day? snapping back to a positive mindset after a stressful situation is easier for people who are grateful in their day-to-day life. They are able to see the bigger picture and look back at positive aspects of their lives. The more you do this the better you get at it!
Gratitude improves self-esteem
How do you feel when someone gives you a sincere “thank you”? Appreciated, cared for, maybe even loved. It’s the awareness that other people are willing to do good for you, that will give you the realisation that you must be worth it. And so it improves your Self-esteem.
Science and Logic behind Gratitude
Gratitude is a complex social emotion and helps us bonding with our relationships in our day-to-day life. Social connections are fundamental to a happy life. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest and still ongoing study ever done on mankind, shows that our relationships and the quality of these relationships are most important for a healthy and happy life.
There is a lot that we don’t know about our brain. But one thing we know for sure is that it works a massive filter. And sometimes we just can’t take in all the information that comes toward us. But, if we actively practice gratitude. We train our brain to only take in the information that is considered as a blessing. And we tend to not focus too hard on the hassles in life.
A good way to illustrate this is a study performed on grad students. The researcher asked them to play Tetris for hours on hours. The more the would play Tetris the more they would see the shapes it in everything in their life. From the supermarket counter to the table chairs.
You probably have noticed a similar effect yourself before. For instance when you started a new job. Whatever product, service or vendors you started working with. Suddenly you would notice that their everywhere. The same principle works with gratitude and positive thoughts.
No room for negativity when positive thoughts are present
there is a very logical reason why practising gratitude benefits us. Our brain is not capable of producing negative and positive emotions at the same time. So if we feel grateful, we simply have no space to feel moody.
Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. Learn more about how to cultivate Gratitude in your day-to-day life, in my article 6-ways to Practice Gratitude in your daily life,
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