Or, Why Gratitude Is Better Than Prozac.
As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us begin to contemplate the things for which we are grateful. Many families have traditions of sharing their thoughts at the table, and none of us wants to be caught short. But what are the benefits of having “An Attitude of Gratitude” all year long?
What Does It Mean To Have An Attitude of Gratitude?
In order to experience the benefits of gratitude, there are two factors that must be present. First, it’s about noticing. We must notice what is good in our lives. Noticing is very closely related to mindfulness, which is why you often see mindfulness and gratitude mentioned together. In fact, one commonly mentioned way to be grateful is to practice mindfully meditating on something for which we are grateful.
Secondly, we need to recognize that the source of what we are grateful for is outside of ourselves. That means that if we are grateful we got that award, we can also recognize not only our hard work, but also all of the other people who helped us along the way. Or even the lucky circumstances that gave us the opportunity to win it.
An attitude of gratitude is all about noticing what is good, acknowledging the factors that make it possible, and appreciating the fact that this goodness is in our lives. Feels good just to write it.
For years now, gratitude has been a buzzword among the therapy community, the self-help community and popular culture alike. We have read about how gratitude positively affects your well-being – your hopefulness and self-esteem– and your personality – lowering your aggression levels and raising your empathy. Gratitude may even have a positive impact on your health.
These are all wonderful results of something so simple as practicing a little gratitude, but gratitude has even more benefits than you might imagine.
*Don't miss the video at the end for a little inspiration!*
Here Are Some of The Surprising Benefits of Having An Attitude of Gratitude:
1. Gratitude Can Help You Sleep Better
This surprises most people, but the research shows it’s true. People who were more grateful slept better and longer, had less trouble falling asleep, and functioned better in the daytime. In America it is estimated that 60 million people suffer from insomnia, and certainly many more could benefit from better quality of sleep, or even just falling asleep more easily. Click here for more ideas on how to get a good night’s sleep.
2. Gratitude Can Make You Popular
According to a joint study at University of New South Wales, Australia, and Gonzaga University in Washington State, expressing gratitude can win you friends. This research showed that when people expressed gratitude, the recipients of the gratitude viewed them as warmer, and were more likely to want to see them again. This was the result of just one sentence: “Thank you SO much for all the time and effort you put into doing that for me.” Gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated, or creative, it just has to be expressed.
As William James, one of the fathers of modern psychology, said in 1890, “…the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
3. Gratitude Can Make You A Better Boss
Researchers from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania (home of Positive Psychology!) found that when a manager told workers she was grateful for their efforts they were 50% more productive. I would challenge you to find any other method that could produce these results!
4. Gratitude Can Make You Happier In Your Marriage
If you show gratitude for your partner in your intimate relationship, your partner will be happier and you will grow closer as a couple. But here’s the kicker – if you show gratitude for your partner, YOU will be happier in your relationship and feel more satisfied with your partner. This is a clear win-win!
5. Gratitude Can Help You Get Through the Holidays Smoothly
Gratitude has been shown to lower rates of PTSD and to have fostered resilience after the terrorist attacks on September 11.
Gratitude can also help us with the kind of normal family drama that comes with the holiday season as regularly as the turkey. There’s that Thanksgiving dinner with Aunt Sue, the gossip, and Uncle Bob, the groper. And what about trying to carry on some kind of reasonable conversation while the kids all run around on a manic sugar high? It’s enough to make you want to pound down the eggnog!
Practicing gratitude over the holiday season can help you be resilient throughout the mundane, but annoying, events that make up your Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations– be it Hannukah, Christmas, or Kwanza. Start a gratitude practice now so that you are ready when you need to be!
How Do I Cultivate an Attitude Of Gratitude?
Once a Day – Keep a Gratitude Journal. At the end of each day, write down three things that you are grateful for.
Once a Week – Thank someone. Take the time to write a little note to someone – it can be an email or a private message on Facebook or Instagram. Make sure the only purpose of this message is to say “thank you”.
Once a Month – Have a Gratitude Round-Robin. Recruit your family! Have everyone go around the dinner table and talk about the things for which they are grateful. Who knows, maybe this Thanksgiving tradition will catch on and become a regular event at your house!
Gratitude, Schmattitude – Are the Holidays Getting You Down Anyway?
Sometimes no matter how hard we try, we find ourselves feeling sad, hopeless, or overly anxious about the holiday season. If this is you, you are not alone! This season affects many people in the same way!
If your sadness or your stress level is getting in the way of your life or your peace of mind, professional help can really make a difference. Please don’t hesitate to call me at 310-699-6993 for a free consultation, or you can make an appointment using my online scheduler 24/7. If I can’t help you, I will find someone who can – I want your holidays to be truly happy!