Why It Pays to be Grateful
“Be grateful for what you have!” I’m sure we’ve all heard this countless times from others, but it’s hard to do when things are going wrong or not the way you planned. Despite the overused verbiage, there has to be some truth behind gratitude, right? Right! The practice of gratitude involves focusing on what you are receiving and the goodness around you and the research suggests that it promotes positive outcomes for your health and well-being.
The Health Benefits of Gratitude
People who cultivate gratitude daily have better physical and mental health. When asked to write in a gratitude journal for one week with three things they were grateful for and a reason for why it happened, people saw increases in happiness. If they stuck with the journal for 6-months, people experienced a significant decrease in depression.
Gratitude can also help improve sleep. If you think about your gratitude list when you are trying to fall asleep, this can calm you and will make it easier for you to fall asleep. Thinking about the good things is a stark contrast to the negative thoughts that can keep us up at night. Next time you’re upset about something when going to bed, try ruminating on the positive parts of your day or your life and see what happens.
Gratitude and Relationships
Gratitude also helps build stronger relationships. Showing gratitude and appreciation for someone else makes both of you happier and closer. It also increases helping behaviors– if you express true gratitude to someone, they are going to be more likely to help you in a time of need. They are also more likely to help someone else after your gratefulness; it has a pay-it-forward effect.
Gratitude and Happiness
One piece of research must be stressed: gratitude is the single best predictor of happiness. The more grateful you are, the happier you are. It’s plain and simple. With gratitude, you will be less materialistic and be more content with what you have in life. You will focus more on the good than the bad and be better able to see the good even in the bad times.
Increasing Your Gratitude
TLC-VR is here to help you become more grateful. Being deliberate about gratitude and “hunting the good stuff” are simple actions to take on the road to happiness. If you want to be more grateful, there are a few exercises you can try.
- Every day write down things you are grateful for and reflect on why you are grateful for them.
- Challenge yourself to look for the good (the silver lining) in a negative situation.
- Set up visuals to remind yourself to be grateful.
- Go out of your way to express gratitude to someone else. This could be in an email, a letter, a phone call, or in-person.
- Take pictures of things that you find beautiful and look back at them to remind yourself of those good times.
With these exercises, try to notice the changes in mood and mindset that you experience. Be mindful of the positivity that it brings to your life.
Written by Elizabeth McCabe