The Benefits of Gratitude

With all the scientific benefits of gratitude, it’s easy to see why we call it a life-saving habit.

I’ve come to the conclusion that happy people are grateful people first.

When happiness feels elusive, gratitude helps us turn our focus outward to the goodness in our lives.

Gratitude is the humility to find joy in the everyday, and it’s the power to overcome the hardest moments of life.

When you understand all that gratitude does, it’s impossible NOT to see it as a guaranteed way to fortify your soul.

Even if you change nothing else in your life, prioritizing gratitude can change it all

Emotional Benefits of Gratitude

The National Institutes of Health defines emotional wellness as “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.”

Based on the research, practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to achieve emotional wellness.

Grateful people have greater levels of psychological well-being, feel more positive emotions and are more content and satisfied with life.

Ever wish you could get a better handle on negative emotions like envy, resentment, frustration and regret? Do a better job of managing stress in a healthy way? Have better self-esteem? Or maybe these are all things you wish for your whole family. Practicing gratitude improves all of them.

And making a habit of gratitude decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety, and may help counteract suicidal thoughts. It helps us think more positively and develop resilience so we can cope with the inevitable difficulties in life.

Emotional Wellness: 14 Things To Be Grateful For

  1. Relationships that encourage you to express thoughts and feelings

  2. Seeing a challenge as an opportunity

  3. Learning from mistakes

  4. Taking responsibility for your actions

  5. Prioritizing your mental health

  6. Healthy coping mechanisms (journaling, music, talking)

  7. Maintaining a daily routine

  8. Time away from technology

  9. Enjoying mealtime without distractions

  10. Awareness of your emotions and stress levels

  11. The ability to manage stress

  12. Listening before you speak

  13. Looking for something positive in negative situations

  14. Helping others look for the good

Social Benefits of Gratitude

Healthy relationships are foundational for social wellness. Practicing gratitude can strengthen family relationships and make us more willing to help. It can also help improve relationships that need some workwe’re more likely to trust other people and we’re better equipped to forgive.

Grateful people create community and connections, which naturally leads to a wider social network and more friends. When we regularly practice gratitude, we’re more agreeable and we have more empathy, an essential ingredient for thriving communities.

And here’s a really cool finding: when we take the time to say thank you, the people we thank are twice as likely to help more people, including strangers. Our world could use a whole lot more of that!

Social Wellness: 10 Things To Be Grateful For

  1. Meaningful friendships

  2. Groups to connect with on important issues and stages of life

  3. Spending time with friends

  4. Spending time with family

  5. Prioritizing your most important relationships

  6. Accepting invitations and participating in social activities

  7. Meeting new people

  8. Meeting people with different backgrounds

  9. Finding a place or way to volunteer

  10. Exploring new places and locations

Physical Benefits of Gratitude

It makes sense that gratitude can positively impact our emotional and social wellness, but our physical wellness? Yes, gratitude improves our overall physical health.

The neuroscience of gratitude is fascinating! This even got the attention of my teenager who usually rolls his eyes when I talk about gratitude. (In fairness, I do it all the time so I’m sure he gets tired of it.)

Practicing gratitude can strengthen our immune system, lower blood pressure, improve heart health and help us manage pain. It also reduces the risk of substance use disorders.

Grateful people make better food choices and are more likely to exercisetake note if these are some of your goals! People who practice gratitude also have more energy, sleep better and live longer.

Physical Wellness: 17 Things To Be Grateful For

  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables

  2. Access to healthy foods

  3. Cooking at home

  4. A nearby grocery store or farmer’s market

  5. Local restaurants

  6. Carryout or delivery

  7. The ability to move your body

  8. Exercise and physical activity

  9. Finding ways to get extra steps

  10. Taking a walk

  11. A bed to sleep in

  12. Getting a good night’s sleep

  13. Waking up in the morning

  14. Medical professionals for routine care

  15. Health insurance

  16. Access to prescriptions

  17. Choices in hygiene items

Spiritual Benefits of Gratitude

SAMHSA defines spiritual wellness as “a broad concept that represents personal beliefs and values and involves having meaning, purpose and a sense of balance and peace.” Nearly every religion emphasizes the importance of gratitude—makes sense in light of all the benefits of gratitude that are supported by scientific research.

Gratitude increases spiritual wellness because we feel closer and more connected to our faith. It encourages us to reflect on the past and strengthens our faith in facing the future.

Spiritual Wellness: 6 Things To Be Thankful For

  1. Being grounded in values and beliefs

  2. Freedom to choose what and how to worship

  3. Finding meaning in life

  4. Connecting with others who share your beliefs

  5. Helping others when you notice a need

  6. Time to practice spiritual disciplines (prayer and meditation, reading)

Occupational Benefits of Gratitude

Princeton University defines occupational wellness as “finding fulfillment from your work and study, contributing meaningfully and continuing to expand your skills and strengths.” School, paid work and volunteerism fall under the occupational wellness umbrella, so it’s important during every stage of life.

I was surprised to discover how much gratitude matters in our work and career lives. Having a job you love makes it easier, but practicing gratitude increases job satisfaction and helps us find purpose and meaning in our work, no matter what that work might be. It also reduces work-related stress, improves decision making, increases productivity and leads to greater effort in reaching our goals.

If you’re in a leadership position at work (or want to be in the future), the practice of gratitude is invaluable. It improves managerial skills because you’re more likely to praise and motivate employees whose efforts help you to be successful. Gratitude inspires trust, increases employee effectiveness and improves organizational performance.

Occupational Wellness: 10 Things To Be Grateful For

  1. Work or a career that fits your values

  2. Communicating with your employer or supervisor

  3. Connecting and communicating with your coworkers

  4. Making positive contributions at work

  5. Finding satisfaction in your work

  6. Taking time to have fun

  7. Finding ways to relax

  8. Giving back to your community

  9. Spending your time well

  10. Professional accomplishments

Intellectual Benefits of Gratitude

Intellectual wellness isn’t about how smart you are—it’s about how you keep your mind active. It’s about lifelong learning, broadening your perspective and understanding different points of view. So how does gratitude help any of that?

Practicing gratitude can improve our emotional and academic intelligence, largely due to the many other benefits of gratitude. We also know that gratitude physically changes your brain and leads you to be more grateful with less effort.

Intellectual Wellness: 14 Things To Be Thankful For

  1. Literacy and the ability to read

  2. Books, libraries and bookstores

  3. Bookshelves at home

  4. Learning new skills

  5. Being creative

  6. Exploring a new hobby

  7. Podcasts and TED Talks

  8. Music

  9. Access to the performing arts

  10. Teaching a skill or sharing what you know

  11. Volunteering

  12. Brain teasers or puzzles

  13. Choices about where you get your news

  14. Listening to the ideas and experiences of others

Environmental Benefits of Gratitude

I have never considered environmental wellness before—or at least not by that name. The NIH explains that it’s about “what surrounds you each day in your home, work or neighbourhood and the resources available to you.” It includes your physical space, but also the people, ideas and attitudes that surround you.

When we practice gratitude, we’re less likely to focus on things that make us anxious or fearful. We have stronger and more positive relationships and we foster a culture of respect and courtesy. Gratitude leads to lower materialism and greater contentment with what we already have.

Environmental Wellness: 8 Things To Be Thankful For

  1. A home

  2. The ability to make choices about green living

  3. Spending time outside

  4. Visiting a local park

  5. Cleaning all or part of your home

  6. Decreasing clutter

  7. Organizing your workspace

  8. Decorating your home and creating a space you love