If you’re a skeptic and let lose an artful eye-roll every time someone talks about their Gratitude journal, I get it. How can writing something down create a positive ripple effect powerful enough to jumpstart spiritual growth?
Here are seven science-backed studies that might help you turn your frown upside down and start thanking your lucky stars for everything from the meals you eat to the people you greet.
Gratitude and Optimism Linked To Better Post-Heart-Incident Self-Care and Recovery, and improved heart health.
Jeff Huffman and his team conducted the Gratitude Research in Acute Coronary Events (GRACE) Study. They found that Gratitude & Optimism have a direct correlation to a person following health and wellness guidelines like taking medications, eating healthy, and exercising people six months after their heart event. Those who expressed a sense of gratitude also reported better health-related quality of life and lower rates of developing depression and anxiety.
Another study shows that people who wrote down what they were grateful for showed reduced inflammatory biomarkers (indicating less inflammation in the body) and improved heart rate variability, indicating a stronger ability to tolerate stress.
Gratitude Increases Well-Being and Decreases Physical Symptoms
A 2003 study conducted by Emmons & McCullough demonstrated that expressing gratitude through writing increased overall well-being and decreased physical symptoms of illness, thereby reducing doctor visits. In the same study, participants experienced an increase in their desire and willingness to exercise.
Gratitude Creates Greater Positive Experiences in Life
Wong and Brown (2017) concluded that a gratitude practice trains the brain to be more in tune with experiencing gratitude, and therefore we seek out or more greatly register positive experiences. In new-age parlance, ‘what you think is what you attract.’
More Helpful & More Self-Control
Practicing gratitude helps with pro-social behaviors, such as being more helpful to others. A series of studies done by Bartlett & DeSteno (2006) showed a positive relationship between kind behavior and a gratitude practice. Another study done by Dickens & DeSteno (2018) demonstrated that grateful people could ward off impulsiveness and put off reward, curbing their spending.
Plus These Identified Benefits
The Greater Good Science Center shares in a White Paper: The Science of Gratitude (2018) these additional identified benefits:
- less likely to experience burnout
- better sleep
- less fatigue
- greater resiliency
If you are interested in developing your own practice, start with these two simple steps:
- say ‘thank you’ more often
- Gratitude Check-In: spend two minutes before you get out of bed (or drift off to sleep), identifying the things you are grateful for.
If you want help in getting started and want to dive more deeply into a Gratitude Practice, I’ve created a 10-day mini-program that helps you explore what creates a sense of gratitude and how to tap into it no matter what is happening around you. You can find out more about it here: 10-Day Deep Dive and it’s super affordable (think less than the cost of lunch out.)