Free to give, priceless to receive, gratitude is one of the things we often forget to include in our busy lives – but it’s so important. Not only does it serve to remind us of what we should be thankful for, but taking the time to reflect on and acknowledge gratitude can actually improve our quality of life.
Think I’m overselling it?
Then take it from Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. This world leading expert on gratitude has conducted dozens of studies on the impact of regularly practicing thankfulness, with research subjects ranging from age eight to 80.
The results have been equally surprising and inspiring. Consistently giving and receiving gratitude has been conclusively shown to influence not only our emotional well-being, but also our physical health. Benefits include stronger immune systems, reduced physical pain, lower blood sugar, better sleep, enhanced compassion, more energy and fewer feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can in turn lead to improved social health.
How to Practice Gratitude
It doesn’t have to be much, and how you choose to express gratitude will depend largely on who you are expressing it to and why. It can be as simple as going beyond saying thank you to telling someone why you’re thankful. It can be writing and mailing a handwritten note or giving a thoughtful gift. The key is to do something out of the ordinary.
Of course, sometimes when we express thanks it’s not always to someone in particular, but rather in recognition of an event that has occurred. Perhaps we have achieved a hard-won goal, and want to thank something (be it the universe or a higher power) for giving us the resources needed to get there. According to Emmons’ studies, simply taking the time to write down what we are thankful for and why is a powerful way to practice gratitude and enjoy its many benefits.
So stop for a moment. Be grateful for everything you have, and then commit to bettering your life and the lives of others by expressing your appreciation.