It’s easy to take things for granted. We may appreciate things for a while but, sure enough, we eventually start discounting them. The unhappy result is that we can go through long stretches of our lives without noticing the good things.
The benefits of gratitude show up not only in hordes of modern scientific studies but also in centuries of shared wisdom. All the major religions encourage and celebrate gratitude. And many great spiritual teachers have been powerful exemplars of living with a grateful heart attuned to the wonders of creation.
20 Benefits of Gratitude in Our Lives
Feeling gratitude has an astonishing number of benefits. Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky from University of California, Riverside and other researchers have found that gratitude can:
1. Magnify good feelings.
2. Improve our sense of wellbeing, happiness, and overall life satisfaction.
“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”
-Steve Maraboli, author
3. Lead to better mental and physical health, including lower blood pressure, better sleep, and a stronger immune system.
4. Boost our energy and enhance our vitality.
5. Bolster our capacity for optimism.
6. Reduce negative feelings like anger, bitterness, self-centeredness, envy, and greed—all of which inhibit our happiness—and curb our tendency to compare ourselves to others.
7. Lead to greater generosity, kindness, and helpfulness (“prosocial” behaviors).
8. Help us form closer and better relationships with friends and—and maintain them over time.
9. Expand our social network, giving us access to more friends and greater social support—while making it less likely that we’re lonely and disconnected.
10. Affect our brains in positive and lasting ways, including an orientation toward enjoying it when other people thrive.
11. Shift our attention away from negative emotions (e.g., fault, criticism, regret) and toward positive ones (e.g., benefit, abundance, joy), making it harder for us to ruminate.
12. Help us cope with and build resilience in the face of stress and traumatic events.
“…it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.”
-Dr. Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis
13. Help us become more forgiving.
14. Enhance our sense of self-worth. (We feel more capable and confident when we realize how much others have done for us or how much we’ve accomplished.)
15. Reduce our tendency to complain and feel like a victim since it focuses our attention on what we value and appreciate.
16. Help us maintain a broader and better perspective in which we can place our challenges in the larger context of abundance and privilege.
17. Address the problem of “hedonic adaptation,” in which we tend to grow rapidly accustomed to the things we wanted and got.
18. Help our children and youth. According to research, more grateful adolescents and college students show keener interest in school, do better academically, have better social relationships, and enjoy their educational experience more.
19. Help people facing drug and alcohol addiction.
20. Provide some degree of protection against depression and suicidal ideation.
What will you do to start bringing more gratitude into your life, starting today?
Take the Traps Test
We all fall into traps in life. Sometimes we’re not even aware of it, and we can’t get out of traps we don’t know we’re in. Evaluate yourself with our Traps Test.
Tools for You
- Traps Test (Common Traps of Living) to help you identify what’s getting in the way of your happiness and quality of life
- Quality of Life Assessment to help you discover your strongest areas and the areas that need work and then act accordingly
- Personal Values Exercise to help you clarify what’s most important to you
- “The Trap of Not Being Grateful for What We Have”
- “The Trap of Dissatisfaction”
- “Beware the Disease of More”
- “Have Feelings of Entitlement Crept into Your Mindset?”
- “Are We More Materialistic Than We’d Like to Admit?”
Quality of Life Assessment
Evaluate your quality of life in ten key areas by taking our assessment. Discover your strongest areas, and the areas that need work, then act accordingly.
Postscript: Inspirations on the Benefits of Gratitude
- “Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.” -Barry Neil Kaufman, author
- “Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” -Oprah Winfrey, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author
- “It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.” -Brother David Steindl-Rast, Catholic-Benedictine monk and scholar
- “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beattie, author
- “When you appreciate the good, the good appreciates.” -Tal Ben-Shahar, teacher and writer
- “Living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.” -Arianna Huffington, Greek-American entrepreneur and author
- “Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude.” -Deepak Chopra, spiritual teacher and author
- “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” -Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
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Gregg Vanourek is a writer, teacher, TEDx speaker, and coach on personal development and leadership. He is co-author of three books, including LIFE Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives (a manifesto for integrating our life and work with purpose, passion, and contribution) and Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations (a winner of the International Book Awards). Check out his Best Articles or get his monthly newsletter. If you found value in this article, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps!