The positive impact of gratitude
An impressive body of research has shown that developing gratitude can have a huge impact on both mental and physical health; helping to reduce anxiety and depression, whilst cultivating positive emotions.
Benefits of gratitude
Robert Emmons (one of the world’s foremost experts on gratitude) has shown in his research that people who practice gratitude and keep a gratitude journal, experience many powerful benefits:
- Less bothered by aches and pains
- Stronger immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Exercise more and take better care of their health
- Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More alert, alive, and awake
- More joy and pleasure
- Increased optimism and happiness
- More helpful, generous, and compassionate
- More forgiving
- More outgoing
- Less lonely and isolated
6 steps to maximise the benefits of gratitude
Emmons suggests 6 tips to maximize the benefits of your gratitude journal.
- Savour surprises. Concentrate on events that were unexpected as these elicit greater levels of gratitude
- Commit to being happier. Psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky found that a gratitude journal has greater efficacy when we make a conscious decision to be happier and more grateful. Motivation matters!
- Depth rather than breadth. Research indicates that concentrating on the detail of just one thing for which you are grateful is more effective than writing a quick list of several things
- People first. A focus on the people to whom you are grateful has greater benefits than a focus on things for which you are grateful
- Subtracting for gratitude. Imagine what life would be like without certain benefits. This can be an effective way of stimulating gratitude as well as listing the positives
- Less is more. Writing just once or twice a week can be more beneficial than journaling every day. A study by Lyubomirsky and her team revealed that people who wrote a gratitude journal once a week for six weeks reported increased happiness, whereas people who wrote three times a week did not. Emmons explains that, “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them.”
So why not try your own gratitude journal for 6 weeks?
Take the positivity test to measure your levels of positivity before and after practicing gratitude. Keep us posted on your experiences of gratitude.
Keen to find out more? Watch Robert Emmons on the benefits of gratitude here: