In this post, I am going to discuss five benefits of having gratitude. Did you realize that there are many advantages to your life from being thankful? Have you felt that your day has not turned out the way you want it to or like you can never get a break? Maybe you aren’t getting the raise that you wish to or your not happy because it is raining outside. Maybe you don’t want to work anymore and you would like to retire. The list can go on and on! Did you stop once and think about how lucky you are to even have these experiences? If you did, then you are delving into the juicy benefits of having gratitude.
80% of our thoughts are negative
We can generate thousands of negative thoughts per day! According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative, and 95% are repetitive thoughts(1). That’s a lot of negativity if I say so myself!
When you first learn of the rewards of becoming thankful, it can be eye-opening. There are five main benefits of gratitude that I would like to discuss, which will prove to be very beneficial in your life. I hope you can use these facts to improve both physically and spiritually.
1. Improve your physical health
Pessimism equals acidic body
There is an absolute mind-body connection between being thankful and having physical health. Are you even aware that being pessimistic may make your body more prone to acidosis? If you are not, then you may be surprised to learn that being in this state of mind increases your susceptibility to disease.
The way this happens is that the negative thoughts stimulate the adrenal glands to speed up metabolism. As a result, acid production increases and will accelerate the aging process. When you are in this state, your body will remove calcium from your bones and alkalizing substances from the muscles. It also affects your food digestion so, that you’re not getting all the nutrients you should because your body is using those nutrients to fight the acid (2).
I don’t know about you but this makes me want to be a ray of positivity! We already have to fight carcinogens on a daily basis in our environment and foods! Certainly, don’t need acidosis as well from our thoughts adding to the equation! This is mainly why we need to find a place of gratitude and place its benefits on a pedestal.
Recently, I came across an article that was featured in GreenMed info that showed the more grateful a person is, the lower their risk of heart attack (3). You can read more about this information here.
2. Reduce risk of depression with repeat affirmations
If we constantly show our gratitude for our lives then we will be rewarded with its benefits. When you repeat positive affirmations over and over after a while you will start to believe them. Overall, this will make you less prone to depression.
According to Louise Hay, we are each responsible for all of our experiences (4). She has dedicated a book called Heal Your Body, which I highly recommend for helping you learn to incorporate gratitude into your life. You can purchase that here. In this wonderful read, you will also notice how negative comments may contribute to different types of body pain and disease. All of this, of course, goes hand in hand with the incorporation of gratitude.
3. Improve your sleep
When you practice being thankful, overall your sympathetic nervous system along with your adrenals are calmer because you are not in flight or fight mode. When this happens, your cortisol levels decrease and as a result, you will notice that your sleep is much better. Think about it and reflect on a night when you had very poor sleep.
Maybe the day of, you had a lot of negative thoughts and carried those to your room at bedtime. Maybe you dozed off but found yourself wide awake in the middle of the night with ruminative thoughts about what you had to do the next day. Compare this to a day when you thought very positive and had a lot of gratitude. Did you sleep better? If so, this is not coincidental and there are actual studies that go to prove this.
According to a study at the University of Manchester, 400 adults (40% of whom had sleep disorders) filled out questionnaires about gratitude, sleep and thoughts that they had prior to falling asleep (“pre-sleep thoughts”). Gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts – and less negative ones – at bedtime. This phenomenon was consequently related to falling asleep faster and having more restful sleep(5).
If you express gratitude throughout the day, you are more likely to have your experience filled with positive thoughts and emotions at bedtime. This, in turn, will have a positive impact on your mood at bedtime.
4. Improve your energy levels
Have you ever noticed how much energy it takes to be negative? If you have, then this will prove that not having gratitude will make you tired. It takes a lot out of us to be angry and have thoughts that do not serve us. Have you noticed that when you are happy you feel more motivated to get things done? Energy is big when referring to the benefits of gratitude! When do not practice thankfulness, our energy states are depleted in both a physical and energetic manner.
Pathophysiologically, chronic stress and negative emotional states can both invoke a “chronic stress response” characterized by increased stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, with resultant peripheral effects, including augmented heart rate and blood pressure responsiveness and delayed recovery to stressful stimuli.
Research indicates a wide array of stressful conditions–associated with either element of relative inflexibility in psychologic functioning and/or relatively unabated stressful stimulation–that are associated with this type of exhausting hyperarousal (6).
Basically, to sum this up, when you are negative your sympathetic nervous system is in flight or fight mode, which, in turn after a while can lead to exhaustion. If you find yourself exerting gratitude, then your parasympathetic nervous system will be activated, which will bring on tranquility. As a result, you will feel more at peace and will have more energy to do things.
5. Improve your relationships
Improving your relationships is one of the wonderful benefits of having gratitude and will go a long way in your life. Do you find it difficult to associate yourself with negative people? Not talking about bad people per se, just the ones who always seem to be the ” Eyore” of the group. They always complain about their jobs, marriages and seem to chastise people that are successful. If you feel as if you are one of these people, then it would be of your best interest to incorporate gratitude to improve your relationships. It is very difficult for positive people to listen to people who are ungrateful and don’t seem to realize what it is they have.
Gratitude opens lines of communication
However, when you have gratitude, the lines of communication open up and more people feel comfortable being around you. Gratitude was found to especially influential with relationships with your spouses or significant others. There was research by Kubacka and colleagues in 2011 which investigated specifically how gratitude influences positive behaviors toward a spouse over time (7). It found that:
– spouses feel gratitude for their partners when they perceive their partners’ behavior as being responsive to their needs
-the feeling of gratitude motivates reciprocal behavior that is responsive back to their partners’ needs.
-when the reciprocal behavior is perceived, the feeling of gratitude results in them as well.
-a positive cycle is created over time, with increasing gratitude and loving behavior from both individuals.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude will help your relationships flourish with friends and family. People want to be around positivity! Overall, it is just easier for them to listen to peacefulness and as a result, it makes them want to be that way too.
Incorporate gratitude anywhere in your life
In conclusion, we should be thankful for everything we have and find wonderful happiness in small things. Have you ever come close to losing your life? If so, it would be helpful to try to recall how grateful you felt at that time to be alive here on this earth. Do you have children? I do and it really helps me to remember how grateful I was to hold them after they were born. It truly was one of life’s little miracles and I felt so blessed!
It is absolutely essential to find gratitude anywhere in your life. For instance, if you don’t like your job then just be thankful you have a job! There are plenty of people who don’t. I find yoga or meditation to be very useful when I feel myself becoming negative or ungrateful. In fact, click here for a good yoga session on gratitude.
All in all, I truly hope that you can find peace because it will help prolong your life. You need to figure out what it is that you need to do to accomplish this! Just listen to your body and find out ultimately what it needs! Another good way to find gratitude is to do things to open up your root chakra. Please see my post here.