5 Unbelievable Benefits Of Gratitude
Just last week we ventured into the world of mental health and mental hygiene, but one technique I excluded was gratitude. And that’s because it deserves a whole write up for itself. The story of how I got familiar with the unbelievable benefits of gratitude goes something like this…
Sometime in the past, I read an article about all these amazing benefits of gratitude. Supposedly, if you had gratitude you’d get healthier, happier, more productive, and so on. It was very similar to how marketers try to sell their new and amazing product, which made me extremely skeptical about the whole thing.
And the more I thought about gratitude, the more it seemed like bogus…
Mostly because, in my mind, gratitude was saying the words “thank you”, but would that change anyone’s life? In most cases, it’s just a learned behavior, a cultural norm, and a social necessity. So why would anyone go out of their way to express even more gratitude? Would they actually mean it? What’s in it for them? And what is gratitude anyway? Is it perhaps like a religious cult that brainwashes people?
To answer all these questions, I delved deeper into the subject, which got me some really unbelievable answers. But before we get to those, let’s understand what gratitude is all about.
A lifetime of gratitude
As it turns out, gratitude is a very important notion in positive psychology, having dozens of studies devoted to the effects of gratitude. That being said, the following information is my own interpretation and understanding of the research found here.
Gratitude, surprisingly enough, is a multi-layered term, which is more than just the act of saying “thanks” to someone. It’s also the innate willingness to return someone’s kindness, it’s the warm/uplifting emotion you feel when someone does you a favor, and it’s also a grateful attitude towards life. All of these improve our mental health, bringing a multitude of benefits that can improve anyone’s life.
The main difference from optimism, however, is that gratitude is more of an actionable perspective. You’re more involved in the whole thing and it’s much easier to do.
You simply thank someone or write it down in a journal for yourself. Whether it’s a simple thanks or the million reasons why you love your friends. The more you repeat it, the more obvious the benefits become.
And best of all, gratitude is free. You don’t need to take courses or buy books for it, you just do it! The more interesting part are the benefits, so let’s delve a little deeper into them, shall we?
Benefit of gratitude #1 – emotional stability
In our lives, too many things are out of our control, which inevitably leads to anger, frustration, helplessness, and many other negative emotions. And even when something good happens, it’s just a short-lived moment of happiness that pales in comparison with all the negativity. When you try to find something to be grateful about in any situation, it shifts how you pursue happiness at a very subconscious level.
Instead of endlessly running on a treadmill or climbing a never-ending ladder in the pursuit of happiness, you step down, look around, and realize there’s already enough to be happy about.
This returns a sense of control over your life, which gets rid of some negative emotions completely while lessening the intensity of others. So even when you feel angry or stressed, it won’t ever be at the level where you have to take it out on someone or something. Or if you feel sad the world won’t seem as dark and hollow, allowing you to perk up and return to normal much faster.
On the other hand, when you have less negative emotions, there’s more space to fill up with positive emotions. So when you’re more positive, your mental health will become better, which leads to an improved quality of your life, while also giving you the strength to overcome stressful situations much easier.
And best of all, it changes how you perceive memories. Good memories will be better. Bad memories will become “meh” memories. And any type of trauma will have less of an impact on you.
These are just a select few of many dozens of mental health benefits that arise from gratitude. The important thing to note, however, is that you can live with your head held up high much easier. And we’re only just getting started! So let’s move onto the next overlooked benefit of gratitude.
Benefit of gratitude #2 – a well-balanced personality
Money equals success in modern society, so modern individuals are defined and driven by materialistic values. And any role-model they could have always flaunted their money, their business, their income, and how much better their lives are.
This leads to insecurity, self-doubt, and a warped direction in your life. Because there are things you want to do, but someone is constantly waving a stack of bills saying this is the only way to be happy.
By practicing gratitude, you effectively negate all of that by ridding yourself of those materialistic values. You take a moment and think that what you have right now is not so bad.
So you’re suddenly free to pursue a life that’s not just about making money, but about living a happy and fulfilling life. And even then, you can still make money, it’s just not your focus. That also broadens your perspective, allowing you to focus more on yourself and the people around you.
And no matter what you decide to do, you’ll believe in yourself more because you chose your path. It wasn’t because you were driven by an unquenchable thirst for more money. In short, your values and personality will be more balanced instead of only being fueled by ambition and you’ll see more possibilities you never noticed before.
Benefit of gratitude #3 – improved social skills
This ties in with the previous benefit, but it doesn’t just stop there. You see, when it comes to gratitude, there’s also the law of reciprocity at play. It’s basically a social norm where people will be automatically kind to you if you’re kind to them and vice versa.
You say “thank you” and they’ll say “you’re welcome.” It’s a simple, but often overlooked method of building a good rapport with someone, allowing you to form good relationships much easier.
The only real pitfall is that you can’t force gratitude nor can you expect it, otherwise it will just be unpleasant for both parties involved.
For example, have you been in a situation where someone has been overly nice to you as if trying to buy your favor or make you indebted? It probably wasn’t that effective, was it?
Gratitude is also very important in maintaining good relationships with your friends, family, and especially with your spouse or partner. And there’s a weird reason why it’s important.
You see, reciprocity happens naturally, but only towards strangers. When it’s our family or friends, we perceive the bond as the reason why they do anything. So it’s normal to not feel any gratitude towards them.
But this is also the reason why so many relationships go sour. Couples simply start to focus on the negatives more. This is also the prime reason why many married couples divorce. So when you practice gratitude you focus on the positives of your relationship, allowing you to strengthen your bonds, trust, love, and intimacy.
Benefit of gratitude #4 – impeccable health
This benefit simply ties in with the three previous benefits. Gratitude fortifies your mental health, but our overall mental health influences our physical health as well. As the saying goes: “A healthy spirit resides in a healthy body.”
You’re emotionally stable, your personality is well-rounded, and your relationships are great. So you live a better and more fulfilling life, you have fewer problems and worries, and you have more support when you need it.
Just by having a life of gratitude like this, there are fewer things to keep you awake at night, allowing you to get a deeper and refreshing sleep.
So when you’re well-rested, you have more energy and a positive attitude for the day ahead.
And when you’re in a good condition for a prolonged time, it reduces the wear and tear on your body, allowing you to even heal some of the damage, which also leads to a longer life.
Then comes a moment when you appreciate your good health and you want to put in more effort to keep it, leading you to exercise more, even if you’ve never done it before. It’s somewhat of a slippery slope of one thing leading to another. But most of our lives is simply a drawn-out domino-effect. The only difference is whether you go down the path of gratitude and positivity or if you don’t.
Benefit of gratitude #5 – steady career growth
Last, but not least, we have the ultimate benefit, that is supported by the previous four benefits.
Mental stability? Check. A well-rounded personality? Check. Great social skills? Check. Always healthy? Triple Check. Each of these things is a key ingredient in success, especially in your career. So let’s try to break that down a bit more.
For starters, when you make gratitude your priority, it’s much easier to become a great manager.
That’s because studies have shown that most employees respond better to gratitude rather than criticism. So when someone you’re working with is in a positive mindset due to gratitude, it’s a much better environment for them to grow and input actual effort.
Continuing on, when you have a well-rounded personality, your goals are not only more grounded and realistic, but you also have a clear idea on how to achieve them.
Gratitude is simply the magical fan that blows away all the fog, revealing the path towards success. This also ties into your decision-making ability since gratitude changes the way how you self-reflect, making it a more pleasing experience for you.
You simply focus on extracting the valuable experience and knowledge from any mistake or bad experience rather than needlessly mulling over the negatives and falling into despair.
Next, we have the law of reciprocity again. When you have improved social skills for interacting with strangers and family/friends, it also carries over into your career.
You’re still dealing with people after all, but the only difference is, they’re now clients, employers, and business partners.
For example, having a long-term business partner is like being in a marriage. If you can maintain a long-lasting marriage, you can also have an amazing and profitable partnership.
In short, gratitude is a great tool to build a large network of valuable contacts that will boost your career in a multitude of ways.
And finally, health is number one reason for stopping careers dead in their tracks or making them stagnate.
How often do we hear stories of people giving up their dreams of being a star athlete or a performer just because of an injury or an illness? Or people that miss out on promotions just because they take out too many sick days? Imagine how much further ahead would you be, if you almost never got sick…
Or if you never had to force yourself to work when you’re sick or distressed, but instead you’d always be happy and full of energy. How much better your overall productivity would be? Gratitude makes all of that possible, you just have to try.
Start practicing gratitude, it’s not a religion I swear!
Now we’re at the end of this blog post. I really hope I convinced you why you should at least try gratitude.
It’s simple to do but has astounding benefits that will at least raise a couple of eyebrows. Such as a better mental health, a well-rounded personality, improved social skills, better mental and physical health, and even a steadier career growth!
It’s worth a shot, especially because nothing will ever change if you don’t want it to change. You yourself are the first and last roadblock to a better life.
That being said, that’s all from me! Lemme know in the comments what you think and if you have gratitude in your life! Until next time, live empowered.
Here’s an awesome video on gratitude you can watch: