It is a common tradition in many American households to gather around for a family Thanksgiving feast, and to have every person state something that they are grateful for. This is a heart warming tradition that many people only do once a year. Most of us don’t even give much thought to expressing gratitude in our daily lives for the simple things that we tend to take for granted. However, if we were to incorporate gratitude practices on a regular basis, we would see our worlds change in very surprising ways.
It has been proven through many different psychological studies, that those who maintain regular gratitude practices have happier, more fulfilling lives! A gratitude practice is simply taking time regularly to focus on and express what it is that you are thankful for in your life. By incorporating mindful gratitude for just a few minutes every day, and truly feeling the appreciation, people have noted that they have developed a healthier relationship with the people in their lives.
According to studies done in 2003 and 2005, it has been shown that those who journal 5 minutes daily as their gratitude practice experience a 10% increase in their daily happiness. It may not seem like a drastic increase, but with only 5 minutes of daily dedication, the increase is significant. It has also been shown that individuals who partake in regular gratitude practices experience a positive increase in self-esteem, a decrease in depression, as well as developing more mental resilience when it comes to negative events or experiences.
Those who have incorporated gratitude practices daily have remarked on improvement in their personal relationships with friends, family, and partners. By focusing on what we have and the positive things in our lives, we tend to approach the world in a kinder, more understanding way that is in turn noticed and reflected back to us by those closest to us. Gratitude practices can also increase our overall sense of optimism, reduce materialism and reduce self centered thoughts and actions.
A surprising benefit to grateful living is that it can help us to become better managers by improving decision-making skills and helping us to show more patience to those we work with. Stress in the workplace is often reduced by a member of the staff being more open with their appreciation for others.
The mental and emotional benefits to gratitude practices are fabulous, but that's not all! There have also been many physical benefits noted by those who express gratitude regularly. Along with decreasing depression in many people, a grateful mindset can also reduce blood pressure by reducing the stress load. Studies have shown that a positive, grateful mindset can also help encourage people to become, or increase, their physical activity! Studies through Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital proved that optimism and a grateful mindset can help to improve the health of those suffering from acute coronary syndrome, anxiety, and depression.
By focusing on the positive qualities in life, we truly can alter our lives for the better in numerous ways. This is a simple technique that requires no financial investment, and minimal effort to drastically improve our lives. So this holiday season, extend your gratitude into a daily practice and witness the changes in your life as well as the lives of your loved ones.