Thursday was Thanksgiving. I know it’s a uniquely American holiday that the rest of the world doesn’t celebrate, but I think remembering the blessings in our lives is an important thing to do. With Thanksgiving behind me now I think it’s important to remember how good it is for us to be thankful year round.
Being Thankful Year Round
While endless Insta tags of #blessed on completely unrelated photos of scenery might be annoying (yes, I’m aware I’m guilty of doing the same crime for my cover photo here) many studies in the field of Positive Psychology have actually shown there are a lot of benefits to doing this. It might be good to restrain yourself from sharing on social media how #blessed you are every day just to avoid being interpreted as a show off, being having a daily moment of gratitude in your own head will help you a lot.
Not quite convinced yet? Let’s look at some of the benefits listed by Psychology Today.
Science of Gratitude
Researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough had a control group and an experimental group to think back on their lives. The control group was to review any previous life experiences daily, while the experimental group was to focus on listing things they were grateful for. This sounds a lot like they were put to some focused journalism, which has been shown to have other relaxing and cognitive benefits from other studies by Positive Psychologists- alternatively meditation is usually shown to have the same affects, and any other hobbies done in a “meditative way” like taking a nature walk or running “in the zone” or drawing or doing the dishes or any other activity that frees your mind to just think whatever thoughts it has.
Benefits of Gratitude
Different studies on gratitude had been done with some tweaking of the different variables. Depending on the study, participants engaged in this gratitude or non-gratitude reflection task weekly (for a total of 10 weeks) or daily (for a total of 13 days). Further, participants completed a number of other questions relating to psychological functioning, social functioning, and physical well being.
Most of the participants asked to be thankful at both weekly and daily frequency had more
- better moods
- feelings of belonging and social acceptance
- sick less often
- working out more
These benefits even includes a different experiment they did with patients suffering from a debilitating disease showing similar signs of improved optimism, sleep, and decreased pain.
Gratitude Makes You a Nicer Person
A really cool side affect from practicing gratitude was that the participants were more willing to help others with their problems or offer emotional support.