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7 Powerful and Scientifically Proven Ways Gratitude Can Change Your Life

What is gratitude? It is an incredibly powerful human emotion. Positive psychology considers gratitude a way to acknowledge all the good parts of life. Gratitude in any form can make us feel happier; it has a healing effect. The physical, emotional, and social benefits of practicing gratitude are vast. You can expect better sleep, an enhanced mood, and becoming a better communicator when you make gratitude a part of your routine. How does it work? Simple. Gratitude is a form of happiness, and can be as simple as saying “thank you” when you receive something from someone. This works to improve your relationship with others because it shows you appreciate them. Gratitude and happiness work hand-in-hand by helping you develop skills that make your life better. Not only do positive psychologists believe that gratitude has many positive effects and benefits, but there is scientific evidence to support. Here are 7 ways you can use gratitude to change your life.

1. Gratitude Can Improve Your Physical Health.

University professors in London performed a study that found that practicing gratitude leads to many positive physical health benefits. They found that not only does it greatly improve your sleep, but it can help lower your blood pressure and encourage you to make healthier lifestyle choices. There are a variety of studies out there that attest the influence of gratitude on blood pressure, as well as a correlation between gratitude and quitting smoking, weight loss, and more positive health changes!

2. Gratitude Can Improve Your Work Performance.

When you practice gratitude, it makes you a more empathetic and caring person. This directly affects your ability to manage others and create positive environments where praise and gratitude are part of the culture. Not only has research proven this, but also that you will be able to handle stress and negative emotions more effectively. When y0u are less stressed, you create better working relationships and environments. Appreciation and gratitude go a long way, especially when you work somewhere where there is a lot of stress.

3. Gratitude Can Improve Your Sleep.

Did you know that there is a direct correlation between displaying/receiving acts of kindness and your hypothalamus? This is the part of your brain that controls sleep functions. Research has shown that when we activate that part of our brain, it becomes easier to fall asleep and stay asleep longer. When we are filled with happiness and kindness, there are less of those ‘late night thoughts’ to creep in and keep us up with worry or stress. So think about your hypothalamus today and spread some gratitude!

4. Gratitude Can Reduce Anxiety and Depression.

Managing stress levels is something most of us need to be better about. When we do this and manage our autonomic nervous system, we are reducing our anxiety and depression levels significantly. At a biological level, feeling gratitude increases activity in your prefrontal cortex (where negative thoughts and emotions are managed). As a result, people who implement gratitude into their routine are more likely to be positive and empathetic people.

5. Gratitude Can Improve Your Relationships.

Gratitude is known for improving your relationship with others in a variety of ways. Not only will it allow you to be more open to receiving help from others, but it allows you to find that help within yourself. You are a more empathetic person, which really benefits your romantic relationships and friendships. People enjoy being appreciated and receiving those positive words of affirmation from others. When you make this part of your daily routine, it can really help you make those in your life feel more appreciated and supported.

6. Gratitude Can Improve Your Stress Levels.

There have been many studies on stress levels and its correlation with gratitude. McCraty and colleagues (1998) found that participants in their study who felt gratitude showed reduced cortisol levels compared to those who did not. Not only were stress levels lower, but those participants had better responses to setbacks and had better cardiac levels. It is the act of appreciating and acknowledging the little things in life that does the trick. It seems so simple, but it really is something that most of us take for granted. When we get our brain to focus on what is going on right in front of us and be more appreciative, it really can improve most things.

7. Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

With all that we know about gratitude, it is no surprise that it can make us feel happier. There have been studies that showed that journaling about what you are grateful for helps improve your mood significantly. It is a concrete reminder of all the good things going on in your life and makes you appreciate it for a moment. This act can enhance your overall happiness by more than 10%. Your self-esteem also gets a boost when you practice gratitude daily. So why not get started?

Exercises for Practicing Gratitude.

Now that we know how important it is to practice gratitude, let’s find some methods to do it!

1. Create a Gratitude Jar

This is a great way to itemize the things you are thankful for and have them in one place! Not only is it a constant reminder of gratitude, but you can also get creative with some beautiful stickers and decorate your jar. 

2. Create a Gratitude Journal

We already know the benefits of journaling, so this is your chance to get started! Fill the spaces with things you are grateful for every day and you will be amazed to see how much positivity there is. You can even write quotes, doodle, or add photos! Whatever it is, it is your space to reflect and practice gratitude in whatever way you.

3. Download a Mobile App

While some people prefer pen and paper methods there are many digital platforms that help you practice gratitude. Some are journaling apps that let you reflect from the palm of your hand, and some are more elaborate with point systems and motivations. Whatever you may need to get you started, it is out there.

4. Check Out a Podcast

Podcasts are super convenient and accessible. If you need to hear these affirmations and learn better from others, this might be a great option for you. Podcasts can help give you something to look forward to weekly (or daily!) depending on when they are posted and give you new ideas on how to integrate gratitude into your routine.

5. Create Your Own Method

If none of these exercises are feeling particularly inspiring, create your own! The great thing about gratitude is that you can express it in many ways. The more you do it, the easier it will become. So find the combination of methods or create an entirely new one and get your journey started.

Gratitude is incredibly important to all aspects of life. If you can find ways to make it part of your everyday life, you will be amazed to see the kind of benefits that come with it. We have given you all the steps you need to start your journey, so get out there and spread some positivity!

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