Throughout our lives we are told to be thankful and show gratitude, and to appreciate what we have and those around us. While we know it’s important to be grateful, sometimes it’s hard to be, especially during difficult times.
Actively practicing gratitude can feel like a strange concept, especially when you’re feeling down. However, practicing gratitude is one of the best things you can do for yourself and those around you. Here’s how gratitude can improve your wellbeing and tips for how to practice it in your daily life.
What is Gratitude?
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Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for something or someone that creates long lasting feelings of positivity. It allows us to recognize the good in our lives and see that sources of goodness are available to us. According to Positive Psychology, gratitude is a selfless act. They state that gratitude’s “acts are done unconditionally, to show to people that they are appreciated.”
By showing those around us that we appreciate them and what they have done, we are able to form new and stronger social bonds. We can successfully connect to those individuals and allow them to connect with us, creating a better understanding of each other. By forming these bonds, we are able to expand and develop our levels of social wellness, improving our emotional, physical, and mental health.
How Practicing Gratitude Affects Our Health
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Practicing gratitude not only benefits our emotional well-being, but also our physical and mental. In 2019, a study was conducted researching the effect of gratitude intervention on women with breast cancer. The study found that with the intervention the women’s cognitive, self-esteem, and feelings of optimism all increased. As the women were reminded daily of the good things in their lives, their mental health improved. Dr. Robert Emmons, the scientific leader on the study of gratitude, found that grateful people are more stress resistant, have a higher sense of self-worth, and are more optimistic.
Gratitude is also great for our physical health. In 2017, researchers found that introducing gratitude intervention through gratitude journaling, helps reduce the risks associated with heart failure.