Gratitude: More Than a Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

How often do you pause and feel grateful? Do you take the time to express it? With an entire holiday centered on giving thanks, it seems that perhaps we aren’t feeling gratitude enough throughout the year. We have a holiday devoted to a form of expression that could, and should, be ubiquitous throughout the year.

Gratitude is not only beneficial for the recipient, but also for the person expressing gratitude. Although it may sound trite, there is robust research to back up such a claim. Studies have shown that individuals who kept daily or weekly notes of what they were grateful for had a significantly increased positive affect. Focusing on the happy events of the day and recording three items you are grateful for can create a positive glow for the whole day.

In addition to increased personal well-being, expressing gratitude is predictive of forming and sustaining interpersonal relationships. Gratitude benefits friendships, colleague relationships and romantic relationships. A study showed that couples that express gratitude for one another are more likely to engage in behaviors that promote the maintenance of a healthy relationship. Expressions of gratitude can range from a “thank you” to a larger display of affection; it takes little energy and scientific literature has shown the benefits for mental health and relationships. The simple act of writing a brief letter of gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing symptoms of depression.Recent studies have even found physical benefits, such as decreased risk of heart disease and lower levels of inflammation. This decreased risk could be due to decreased levels of stress.

This Thanksgiving, as you spend time with those you love and take a moment to give thanks, think about little ways to express gratitude throughout your daily life beyond this holiday season. If you are unsure where to start, try writing down three things you are grateful for before going to bed or write a letter to someone you are grateful for in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor’s Note: Originally published at Destination Health EU. 

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