If we were more grateful, how could we potentially change?
Researchers have studied the science of gratitude to determine how being grateful impacts us. Turns out, gratitude makes us happier.
What are the benefits of gratitude?
Harvard Health Publishing released an article last year which said that positive psychology research demonstrated that people who regularly give thanks are happier, but there are other benefits as well. Gratitude can lead to better health, an increased ability to deal with adversity and more positive relationships.
Harvard isn’t the only one that has observed this.
Writing for Greater Good Magazine, a pair of Indiana University professors wrote that counting your blessings can mitigate depression. Their research found that even though the benefits of gratitude (such as experiencing fewer negative emotions) can take some time to experience, gratitude can change our brains.
Licensed mental health counselor Kelly Maynard wrote for the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Partners blog, “Research has found that those who practice gratitude tend to have fewer aches and pains, better sleep, a decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone) and improved cardiac functioning.” She also noted that gratitude can impact our relationships by increasing our empathy.
Last year, Holly Richardson wrote for Deseret News that gratitude can make people less materialistic and make us more giving.
By becoming more giving, our happiness increases in other ways, too. Family researchers Brad Wilcox, Hal Boyd (executive editor of Deseret National) and Wendy Wang wrote in an opinion article for The New York Times, “Individual happiness is more likely to be found not by directly pursuing it but by embracing social institutions that call on us to focus first on the welfare of others.”
Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a former heart surgeon, said that after experiencing many hardships, including the death of a spouse, the death of a child and watching hospital patients die despite the best efforts of medical professionals, he discovered that gratitude has a healing power.
Catholic leader Pope Francis likewise noted the power of gratitude.
Vatican News reported that when speaking to a general audience, Pope Francis said, “If we are bearers of gratitude, the world itself will become better, even if only a little bit, but that is enough to transmit a bit of hope.”
How to become a more grateful person
Developing an attitude of gratitude isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. There are some practices that can help you develop gratitude such as keeping a gratitude journal or donating your time, talent and money.
One way to become a more grateful person is to change your perspective.
According to the University of Minnesota, becoming more grateful might require more than just adding new behaviors. They suggest putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to find any blind spots that you may have.
Psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini said that quitting social media can also help you feel more grateful. By quitting social media and spending more time on real relationships, gratitude can increase. If quitting social media is impossible, taking a break might help you to reconnect with other people in your life and feel more grateful.
Deliberately saying thank you more often, trying to see the best in others and finding things to be grateful for can help make you a more grateful person overall.
Research referenced by Greater Good Magazine found that some mental roadblocks to gratitude include a propensity towards materialism. By becoming less materialistic, we can become more grateful.
Becoming more grateful can positively impact our life outcomes.