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Scientific research around gratitude and health has led to a multitude of promising discoveries. Among the many significant findings within this field of study, the University of California (UC Davis Health) reports the following: Being grateful is linked to decreased measures of stress and depression.
Additionally, practicing gratitude can delay the effects of neurodegeneration. Gratitude practices lead to decreased inflammation and lower blood pressure. Writing a thank you letter decreased hopelessness in 88 percent of suicidal patients and increased optimism in 94 percent.
The findings detailed above only scratch the surface of the beneficial impacts that science has revealed that the practice of gratitude can have.
It is becoming increasingly clear that practicing gratitude has a host of clinical applications. Include the use of gratitude interventions to improve a person's physical and mental health and to treat many medical conditions and disorders.
BECOME A GRATEFUL PERSON
With the extraordinary effects of gratitude constantly demonstrated, more and more people are taking an interest in this topic. But what exactly is gratitude, and how can you practice it in your daily life? Many people learn to express gratitude at an early age. But not so many people learn why it is so important to do it. Nor do many people fully understand what it is to practice gratitude in their daily life.
This article will explore the definitions of gratitude and explain how you can become a more grateful person. Scientific research will be used to demonstrate how developing and expressing gratitude can improve the quality and longevity of life. If you are interested in learning how to improve and extend your life by cultivating and practicing gratitude, read on.
DEFINITION OF GRATITUDE AND THANK YOU
The authors of “Gratitude and Well-Being: The Benefits of Appreciation” provide the following as a clinical definition of gratitude: “Gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of gratitude and / or gratitude ”.
Gratitude is both a status and a trait, according to the authors of this peer-reviewed article. The authors explain that, as a state, gratitude "is a positive social emotion that is experienced when a person does not deserve an act of kindness or generosity." As a trait, gratitude is a characteristic or virtue of people that vary in frequency, magnitude, and length. Grateful people "experience gratitude more times a day and in a wider range of life circumstances compared to those with less gratitude."
An important aspect of gratitude is simply being aware of and appreciating the positive aspects of life. People who practice gratitude tend to see the world through a positive lens. This perspective includes acknowledging the positive aspects in their own lives and in the world at large. Even in difficult times, people who practice gratitude count their blessings. When this happens, people are much more likely to be grateful for their experiences and lives.
HOW BEING GRATEFUL CAN INCREASE THE QUALITY AND LENGTH OF LIFE
Much scientific research has revealed a strong and significant link between gratitude and improved health and wellness measures. Being grateful can increase your quality of life and help you live longer in the following ways:
1 - INCREASED HAPPINESS:
The results of this scientific study revealed that expressing more gratitude was correlated with less depression in the study participants. The study data also showed that gratitude "completely mediated" the link between increased well-being and decreased depression. Another study also aimed to determine the impact gratitude has on measures of depression. The researchers found that grateful people facing financial difficulties had significantly fewer depressive symptoms than ungrateful people.
2 - INCREASED PHYSICAL HEALTH:
The results of this study that examined whether gratitude predicts physical health revealed that participants who practiced gratitude were healthier. The authors found that gratitude improved participants' mental health, participation in healthy activities, and willingness to seek medical care for health problems. Another study had participants write a daily list of things they were thankful for. At the end of the study, participants who practiced gratitude reported less physical distress. The authors of this groundbreaking study investigated the impact gratitude had on the physical and mental health of breast cancer patients. Their data showed that gratitude was "strongly" related to less cancer regrowth, less distress, and more positive emotions. Additionally, the authors of this article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology report that gratitude can strengthen the immune system.
3 - BEST SLEEP:
This scientific study focused on the impact of gratitude on mental and physical health in 186 heart failure patients. The researchers found that gratitude is positively related to better sleep. In addition, the study data determined that gratitude "completely mediated" the correlation between well-being and quality of sleep. In this review of gratitude and health research, the authors report and discuss the findings of much gratitude and health research. One study found that participants who wrote in a gratitude journal for two weeks had "a significantly higher quality of sleep." Another study found that gratitude "predicted better quality and duration of sleep."
4 - MORE RESILIENCE:
Self-efficacy is "the optimistic self-esteem that one can perform new or difficult tasks and achieve the desired results." The authors of this peer-reviewed article state that self-efficacy is a "component of resilience," and resilience is "closely related to self-efficacy." The results of this study revealed that having more gratitude is related to having more self-efficacy. Another study that examined "the role of gratitude in breast cancer patients" found that gratitude is a "common ingredient" of resilience.
5 - STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS:
This study is one of many that have examined the role of gratitude in relationships. The results revealed that "gratitude is important to forming and maintaining the most important relationships in our lives." Similar results are indicated in several other scientific studies investigating the impact of gratitude on relationships.
6 - GREATER SATISFACTION OF LIFE:
This study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Wellbeing examined the outcomes of people who participated in an appreciation intervention. The results revealed that after participating in the 4-week gratitude contemplation, the intervention participants reported increased satisfaction with life. Based on their findings, the study authors concluded that "grateful contemplation can be used to improve long-term well-being."
7 - LESS AGGRESSION AND IMPROVED PATIENCE:
This research review reports the results of several studies examining the impact of gratitude on aggression and patience. The authors reveal that "feeling grateful seemed to protect against hurt feelings and aggressive reactions." Research around this topic has shown that people who practice gratitude are less likely to be easily provoked. The results show that people who practice gratitude have higher levels of empathy for others, suggesting that they also have more patience.
8 - BEST PRACTICES OF PERSONAL CARE:
This chapter of the "Positive Psychology Handbook" discusses many scientific study results from leading experts in gratitude research. In a study that examined the relationship between gratitude and health, "participants in the gratitude condition spent significantly more time exercising." Another scientific study revealed that people who wrote in a gratitude journal ate 25 percent less fat in their diet.
9 - IT CAN HELP IN THE PREVENTION AND RECOVERY OF ADDICTIONS:
The leading gratitude researchers who wrote this peer-reviewed article report that "gratitude reduces the lifetime risk of substance use disorders." Another study evaluated the impact of a web-based gratitude intervention in a random sample of individuals receiving treatment for alcoholism. The results revealed that the gratitude intervention increased positive emotions, decreased negative emotions, and "was beneficial in enhancing recovery" from alcoholism. The author of this dissertation, written for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, also reported positive findings in this area. His research revealed that "a grateful disposition has emotional and psychological benefits for people in recovery from substance addiction."
10 - REDUCED BODY INFLAMMATION:
This scientific study looked at the relationship between gratitude and measures of physical health well-being. The study authors focused on how gratitude correlates with measures of fatigue, sleep, mood, inflammation, and heart health. The results revealed that the patients who expressed more gratitude also had less inflammation.
11 - REDUCED PAIN:
The authors of this gratitude and health review that appeared in The Journal of Psychology discuss the main findings in this field. Including the findings from a pain induction study in which pain perception was less intense in participants who felt more gratitude.
12 - LOW BLOOD PRESSURE:
Both stress and anxiety can raise a person's blood pressure. The authors of this study on whether gratitude predicts physical health, report that people who express more gratitude have less stress and anxiety. Suggest that practicing gratitude could lower a person's blood pressure by decreasing their stress and anxiety. Additionally, the authors of this peer-reviewed article report that gratitude "can lower blood pressure." And in this review of the research, the authors report that high levels of trait gratitude are associated with lower levels of anxiety. The same authors also cite a longitudinal study that reported lower levels of stress in individuals who participated in an appreciation intervention.
10 STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY TO CULTIVATE GRATITUDE:
A wealth of scientific research has shown that gratitude and appreciation can multiply in a number of ways. You can help yourself to develop more gratitude by adopting any or all of the following practices:
2) Thank people often.
3) Write in a thank you journal.
4) Pay attention to the things you say.
5) Be grateful for people, not things.
6) Practice spirituality and prayers of gratitude.
7) Remember the bad and look for the good in the bad.
8) Think creatively and out of the box about things.
9) Think positively. Take a look and be grateful for the little things.
10) Do nice things for others and volunteer for meaningful causes.
Final thoughts on how to grow a more grateful heart
In conclusion, developing and practicing gratitude appears to have a variety of health and healing benefits. Appreciation also appears to have the potential to help treat quite a few mental and physical health conditions and disorders.
A multitude of scientific researchers determined the modalities and efficacy of gratitude interventions for a variety of medical and mental health conditions and disorders. There is a lot of solid research to support the many beneficial effects gratitude can have on psychological and physical health.
There is no denying that practicing gratitude is beneficial for everyone. Like any other skill, gratitude is something that needs to be practiced and developed on purpose in everyday life. You can accomplish this by incorporating any of the many gratitude-enhancing practices described in this article into your daily routine.
Cultivating gratitude doesn't have to be overwhelming or time consuming; you can start slowly and gradually increase your skills. The power of positivity, recognition, and appreciation are truly magical and life-changing things! Most importantly, you deserve to love a longer, healthier, happier life!
You are likely to gain a lot by practicing gratitude and nothing to lose. So why not start being more appreciative today?