Focusing on all the things we want to own, do, and see as opposed to all the amazing things we do have is a common trap that most people fall into at some point or another. However, research shows that showing gratitude doesn’t just make us appreciate the things around us more, it is actually good for our health. The act of appreciating what you have is a move toward a healthier, happier you.
People who intentionally focus on gratitude are shown to have better sleep quality. People find it hard to fall asleep when they are thinking too hard about what they are stressed about or what is going wrong in their lives. Those who took time to focus on what they are grateful for have these more pleasant thoughts in the forefront of their minds, making sleep come easier. This creates a domino effect, because higher quality of sleep is linked to numerous other health benefits.
Gratefulness is shown to increase energy and happiness levels, and this translates to grateful people exercising more often. Studies show that people who practice showing gratitude lead more active lifestyles.
There are many other unexpected benefits of gratitude for the body. Past studies have linked being grateful to having less stress, lower blood pressure, and a better immune system. These things have a cascading effect. An improved immune system protects from numerous potential health problems. As we get older, all of these things become more and more important.
Perhaps most importantly, the effects of increased gratitude on mental health cannot be understated. When people start paying attention to the things in their lives that they appreciate, they become happier, more peaceful, calmer versions of themselves. They report higher levels of a sense of well-being in their lives. Gratitude helps decrease levels of depression and heightens feelings of satisfaction in one’s life.
The act of being intentionally grateful can be carried out in some very simple ways that don’t take up much time. One of the most popular and effective ways to increase thankfulness is a gratitude journal. Every day take a couple of minutes before bed to write down a list of things you were grateful for in that day. Gratitude can also be shown by sending a letter to a friend, giving a hug for a loved one, or just being mindful of what you appreciate in your life.