I can confidently say that every time in life, it behooves us to be grateful rather than unthankful. Even though many of us may struggle with gratitude in our daily lives, it is always the right answer. I understand it is much easier to complain, especially when things aren’t going our way.
However, the upside to gratitude is that it will not only allow you to lead a happier, more successful life, but you will also experience moments and events the way they are meant to be experienced. Presently, with your full focus and attention, and full of joy. In this article, I’ll attempt to explain to you just a few of the science-backed reasons you should be grateful. With evidence, of course.
1.) Gratitude can make you happier.
In one study from 2003, keeping a weekly or daily gratitude journal for 10 weeks was linked to increased feelings of happiness. In this study, participants were assigned to one of three groups: one group kept note of their hassles, one group listed things they are grateful for, and another group kept track of neutral life events or social comparisons. The study participants also kept records of their daily or weekly coping strategies, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals.
In another related study, people with a neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to a gratitude group or a control group. The gratitude groups in both of these studies exhibited higher levels of well-being across all of the domains measured. The results of the studies suggested that a conscious effort to be positive and a focus on blessings had not only interpersonal and personal benefits, but also social and emotional benefits as well.
As Charles Dickens once said:
“Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
2.) Gratitude can boost your self-esteem.
In another study from 2014, investigators measured self-esteem in athletes in response to gratitude. What is self-esteem? It is a [positive] evaluation of/towards oneself that can facilitate optimal psychological and physical functioning. Oxford defines self-esteem as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities, or self-respect.
In the study, athletes’ self-esteem, measures of gratitude, and affective trust in their coaches were measured at the beginning of the experiment and again six months later. It was demonstrated that the athletes who had higher levels of gratitude increased their self-esteem over time, if they had higher affective trust in their coaches. Affective trust is the confidence one places in a partner, such as the relationship between an athlete and his/her coach, based on feelings of level of concern and care said partner demonstrates in a relationship over time. It is a direct measure of the perceived level of security and trust that the relationship is based on.
3.) Gratitude can help you get better sleep.
In a 2009 study, participants were examined on their sleep quality in relation to their gratitude. Personality, including the big 5 traits (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), can influence how we sleep and the quality of sleep we get. However, in this study, gratitude was associated with less negative pre-sleep thoughts that impair sleep and more positive pre-sleep cognitions that promote good sleep.
More specifically, sleep was measured on objective qualities such as total sleep quality, sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep on average), and sleep duration as well as subjective traits such as subjective sleep quality and daytime dysfunction. The bottom line? When falling asleep, more grateful people are more likely to think positive, happy thoughts and have better sleep because of it whereas less grateful people are more likely to experience negative thoughts and poorer sleep, in all aspects.