As the holiday season winds down and the end of the year draws closer, it’s a great time to look back on the past year and think of all the things we’re thankful for in our lives.
Being grateful makes us feel good, but did you know gratitude also has many scientifically proven benefits?
The following are some benefits of gratitude, as outlined in Psychology Today:
A 2014 study published in Emotion found that showing gratitude can help you make new friends. If you express thanks to a new acquaintance, they’re more likely to want an ongoing relationship with you and think of you in a positive light. Keep this in mind the next time someone does something nice for you!
Improved physical and psychological health
According to a 2012 study, grateful people report feeling fewer aches and pains – and are more likely to lead a healthier lifestyle with more exercise and regular doctor check-ups. Research also shows that gratitude reduces feelings of depression and other negative emotions like regret and resentment while increasing happiness.
Not only that, but gratitude even improves empathy, with grateful people being more likely to act in a prosocial manner even in the face of others behaving poorly. Those who practice gratitude show more sensitivity, less aggression, and are less likely to be interested in retaliation or revenge.
If you make a concerted effort to feel gratitude for the positive things in your life before going to bed, you can actually enjoy an improved quality of sleep. A 2011 study found that writing down some grateful thoughts in a journal before bed resulted in a better night’s rest for participants.
Gratitude increases athletes’ self-esteem, according to a 2014 study, and thus by extension contributes to better performance on the field. Another benefit of being grateful is that it reduces social comparisons. When you’re happy and thankful for what you have, you’re less likely to compare yourself negatively with others and can have better self-esteem without resentment toward other people’s accomplishments.
So take a moment to practice a bit of gratitude every day… and don’t forget to let your friends and loved ones know when you’re feeling appreciation for something they did – or just grateful they’re in your life!