The Benefits of Practicing Gratitude 

benefits gratitude woman in field

Think about the day. You wake up, the sun is shining, you feel good, then you get in the car to head to work and you spill your coffee. You drive to work frustrated and now running late since you had to change your pants. You get to work and find out your morning meeting started without you. You feel like your whole day is ruined, despite the fact that the rest of your day is just fine.  

So much of the time the bad things that happen during our days take over. We focus on what went wrong instead of what went right. We feel like a victim even though the bad only took up a small portion of the day. That is where gratitude comes in. Shifting your focus to the things you are grateful for like having a job, the shining sun, your health, helps to move your perspective from the negative to the positive.

A Change In Gears

Gratitude forces us to change gears in our thinking, making us feel better overall. At Wellness Psychological Services, we frequently encourage clients to use gratitude journals to help their brains make the shift. Clients are encouraged to write down one thing, or more, that they are grateful for each day. It can be the smallest victory or the biggest challenge you have overcome. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. If it has been a really awful day maybe you focus on the roof over your head, the warm blanket on your bed, or the fact that tomorrow is a new day. There is always something. 

Science stands behind this theory of gratitude making a real difference in our lives. Regularly recognizing the things in your life you are grateful for, gives you an appreciation for your health, your body, and your life as a whole. People who practice gratitude have fewer aches and pains and take better care of themselves, according to a 2012 study published in Psychology Today. 

Reducing Negative Emotions

Negative emotions like envy, frustration, and regret are less common for those who are regularly grateful. People who can find the positive in the challenges they have faced are happier and experience less depressive symptoms. They tend to also be able to sleep better and have greater self-confidence. If you feel good about who you are, and aren’t spending so much time thinking about the bad things in your life, you are going to feel better. It is not rocket science. 

Regular gratitude practice can increase empathy and reduce aggression. A University of Kentucky study showed that people who reported higher feelings of gratitude were less likely to retaliate against others, even in unfortunate circumstances, and were more likely to be sensitive to those around them. 

The powerful shift in the way you think about things when you change from being a victim to being grateful—you know, the cup is half full instead of half empty—fosters resilience. Some studies have shown it reduces symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and helps trauma victims to heal. 

Kindness, Respect, New Relationships

 Showing gratitude to others by saying “thank you,” or “I greatly appreciate it” not only makes the other person feel good, but it can also open doors to forming new relationships. People who are appreciative and who recognize the sacrifices or efforts of others come across as kind, respectful individuals. It is why after a job interview, it is recommended to send a thank you note.

Making gratitude part of your daily practice can help you to lead a happier life overall, it just take a small shift in perspective. 

The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you create a healthier environment for yourself. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.  ​ 

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