7 Important Benefits of Expressing Gratitude

expressing gratitude

What if I told you there's a multivitamin capable of adding years to your life and improving your relationships?

Too good to be true, right?

You're absolutely right. It's not a multivitamin at all.

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. And according to Harvard Medical School, Psychology Today, News Week, and about 200 independent studies on gratitude, gratitude has no downside.

In fact, expressing gratitude as a daily practice has been proven to reduce pain, combat depression, improve your self-esteem, and make it easier to attract new friends.

(And you thought Thanksgiving was just for eating yourself into a food coma and tolerating drunk relatives!)

 

Below are seven important benefits of gratitude:

1. Expressing Gratitude Creates Better Sleep

The results of a sleep study published in 2008 show that focusing on what you're grateful for right before bed noticeably improves sleep quality. Participants in the study who focused on expressing gratitude before falling asleep were able to:

  • fall asleep faster
  • stay asleep longer (instead of waking throughout the night)
  • experienced less sleep latency (waiting to sleep without being able to sleep)
  • showed less daytime dysfunction the next day.

Conversely, it's been shown insomniacs focus on negative emotions and memories while trying to sleep much more often than good sleepers.

2. Less Envy and Improved Self-Esteem

It's been common knowledge in the psychology community that a healthy self-esteem is directly correlated to better performance. It's hard to focus on sports practice or giving a great work presentation if you're constantly questioning your self-worth.

The Journal of Applied Sports Psychology published a study in 2014 that found athletes who regularly expressed gratitude to their coaches steadily increased their own self-esteem! How does that make sense?

When you spend more minutes of your day focusing on positive things you have, you naturally have less time to spend fretting over what you wish you had. When you're looking for ways to thank your mentors and feel grateful for your own progress, you don't have time to look enviously over at the person next to you.

3. Less Aggression and More Empathy

The University of Kentucky published a study in 2012 looking at practicing gratitude and prosocial behavior. (In this context, "prosocial" refers to behaviors that encourage friendly relationships, rather than antisocial behaviors that discourage others from wanting to interact with you.)

This study showed those expressing gratitude felt more sensitive to the needs of others. Not only that-- participants were less likely to seek revenge or retaliate when given negative feedback.

It's easy to stay friendly with those who are friendly to you. But it looks as though expressing gratitude often helps you choose the high road even when those around you are not being empathetic towards you.

4. Win More Friends

Everyone craves to be acknowledged. This is so universal, most people forget to do any acknowledging!

Saying a simple "thank you" to a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek further interaction with you, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion.

It can be as simple as sending a thank you note, a Christmas card, or thanking the stranger who held a door open for you. The science doesn't lie: people like grateful people.

5. Improved Resilience

Resilience is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Resilient people don't let trauma or adversity define them, they bounce back even stronger for it.

This study from 2006 showed Vietnam vets who practiced gratitude were less likely to be impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder. Expressing gratitude has long since been proven to reduce stress, but it would appear it is also key to overcoming trauma.

Stress comes in many forms; obviously, life-altering events like a natural disaster or death of a loved one are stressful, but something as simple as breaking a routine can cause more stress than we realize.

Focusing on what you're grateful for as often as possible will not only help you handle the small, everyday stressors in life-- they'll also help process the large life events that are still painful to think about.

6. Improved Physical Health

Expressing gratitude improves your physical health in two different but equally crucial ways:

Turn Down The Volume On Your Pain

Clinical trials have shown mindfulness meditation can reduce chronic pain by 57 percent. This is because our nervous system is not the only thing that creates the sensation of pain in our body-- our mind's reaction to pain plays a huge part in how much pain we experience.

By staying focused on expressing gratitude and appreciating the positive things we have, we can reduce the extra pain and stress caused by focusing on pain and suffering.

Get Motivated To Treat Your Body Right

Grateful people are proven to work out more, attend regular medical check-ups, and spend more time investing in their own health overall. This makes sense: if you often take your health and your body for granted, why spend time improving it?

When put that way, it would seem expressing gratitude for all the positive things in your life might actually make your life last longer.

7. Improved Psychological Health

Resentment, envy, frustration, and regret are just some of the many toxic emotions that rob you of your focus, happiness, and overall health.

Thankfully, there are dedicated researchers studying the effects of gratitude on our psyche long-term. Robert Emmons is one such researcher, whose clinical trials have proven gratitude effectively reduces depression.

Get Started Today

By now you should be more than convinced to start a daily gratitude practice. If topics about self-improvement like this one peak your interest, read more about how self-empowerment affects all facets of your life.

Avatar® is a nine-day self-empowerment training delivered by a worldwide network of licensed Avatar Masters.

If you want to take your journey of self-improvement to the next level, speak with a licensed Master near you today about the Avatar Course.

You may find yourself grateful that you did.