When you think of what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle, gratitude probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
But it should be.
Incorporating gratitude into your life transforms the way you view yourself, the world, and the people in it.
Practicing gratitude reminds you that goodness does exist in this world.
When you take the time to reflect on the good you’ve received - either from other people or higher powers - you will be better off because of it.
People who are intentional about counting their blessings often enjoy improved physical, social, and emotional health.
Simply being grateful can dramatically improve the quality of your life and relationships.
Ready to learn how?
1. Being Grateful Can Help You Sleep Better
Want to get the best sleep of your life?
Try counting your blessings every day.
While getting enough sleep each night is essential for good health, the quality of your sleep is equally important.
Gratitude journaling is one of the most effective ways to count your blessings and cultivate gratitude. Researchers in the UK recruited healthy young women to either keep a gratitude journal or fill out a survey each night.
The women who kept gratitude journals were instructed to write down three people and three things that made them feel grateful.
After only two weeks, gratitude journalers reported boosts in their sleep quality.
To see if gratitude journaling may help improve your sleep, try to follow the “Three Good Things” practice when you journal. Jot down three experiences that you feel grateful for, how each experience makes you feel, and why you think each experience happened.
Set aside at least 10 minutes each night to write these experiences down. Writing is a necessary part of the process - don’t just think about it and say you did it.
For the best benefits, aim to journal at least three times per week.
2. Being Grateful Can Boost Your Mood
It probably comes as no surprise that optimists tend to live healthier and happier lives.
But what if you’re not an optimist? Being grateful may be your golden ticket.
People who have higher levels of gratitude tend to report lower levels of stress.
Gratitude may allow you to bounce back more quickly from life’s ups and downs with a more hopeful, positive, and resilient outlook on life.
Being grateful can literally turn you into an optimist.
One simple way to cultivate more gratitude and optimism is through prayer. Researchers have found that prayer is an effective way to boost optimism and reduce negative emotions.
For the most powerful impact try to focus on giving thanks for the good in your life while you pray.
Keep at it and over time you may begin to see that glass a little more full than empty.
3. Being Grateful Can Help You Build Stronger Relationships.
Do you crave deeper and more meaningful connections with those around you?
Think of it as the “social glue” that helps strengthen relationships with others.
Being grateful for those around you may motivate you to be more kind, more social, and more giving.
Gratitude may even nudge you toward finding new friends or partners when you recognize how thoughtful other people can be.
Remembering ways those you love have been good to you can help you view your relationships in a deeper and more positive light.
Subconsciously, this means you might start to seek ways to be a better friend or partner, which can really improve the quality of your relationships.
To begin reaping some of these benefits, try writing a letter of gratitude to someone important in your life.
Be very specific in terms of what this person has done to impact your life and why you are grateful.
Present the letter in person if possible and actually read it out loud to them.
Watch how the benefits of this simple exercise will blossom in your life and relationship.
4. Being Grateful Can Help You Enjoy Your Work More
70% of American workers report hating their jobs according to a recent Gallup poll.
If finding another job is not an immediate option, practicing gratitude in the workplace might make those 2080 hours per year more tolerable, fulfilling, and engaging.
Happier employees tend to be more successful.
What may surprise you is that happiness itself may lead to career success and not the other way around. The cultivation of gratitude can lead to more positive emotions, including contentment and happiness, which can make you a better employee. Who knows, you may even get a raise!
Be intentional about being grateful in the workplace.
Take a moment to genuinely thank a coworker. If your workplace has a “kudos” program, you could also nominate someone for a job well done.
Send a thank you note to your supervisor.
Or block out 5 minutes before work to say a short prayer of gratitude.
When you leave work, reflect on the good, not the bad.
Being more intentional about acknowledging the good in your workplace, whether it’s people or experiences, helps you cultivate more positive emotions at work and in general.
5. Being Grateful May Be Good for Your Heart
The leading cause of death in America, heart disease, is responsible for nearly 1 in 4 deaths each year.
In addition to not smoking, following a healthy diet, and being physically active, consider practicing gratitude to reduce your risk of succumbing to this silent killer.
One study reported that healthy volunteers who experienced feelings of appreciation had measurable improvements in heart rate variability (HRV). Having high HRV means your heart might be better able to handle stress and function better overall.
In another study, patients with heart failure experienced significant reductions in inflammation after an 8 week gratitude journaling intervention.
Inflammation may also be related to your risk of developing heart disease.
Keep that heart healthy by keeping a running list of people, experiences, and places that make you grateful.