The Harvest of Gratitude

You may have heard of the practice of keeping a daily gratitude list. It’s a list of things, big and small, you’re thankful for each day. The idea is that no matter how bad your day may have gone, there’s a reason to count your blessings. We often take for granted the little things that bring us joy or make our lives easier and keeping a list helps us to remember the positives. But why? What has gratitude ever gotten anyone? 

Quite a bit, actually. There’s a bountiful harvest to be found in gratitude. Here are some reasons to count your blessings.


#Relationship Goals
Having good manners dictates that we say “thank you” when someone does something for us, but beyond that, it can help us grow our social circle. Human beings naturally want to feel appreciated and they gravitate towards others who make them feel this way. A study published in 2014 indicated that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Showing gratitude can open new doors and lead to new opportunities. 


Stave Off Depression
Multiple studies have been done on the effects of gratitude on our psychological well-being. In 2005 a study demonstrated that keeping a gratitude journal resulted in a 30% reduction in depression. It has also been shown to have an effect on anxiety. Feelings of gratitude can relieve stress by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Gratitude increases our feelings of positivity which allows us to cope with stressors more effectively. 


 Alleviate Pain
A 2003 study called Counting Blessings vs. Burdens showed reduced pain in 10% of ill subjects who kept a gratitude journal. The study also indicated that participants were more motivated to recover and more willing to exercise.


Better Night’s Sleep
Gratitude has been shown to activate the hypothalamus which regulates many of our bodily functions along with sleep. By stimulating the hypothalamus, gratitude makes it easier to fall into a natural deep sleep and improves the quality of our sleep. 


Motivation to Exercise
Those feelings of gratitude can also help you stay motivated when it comes to exercise. Gratitude directly activates brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good and it helps initiate action. That means increases in dopamine make you more likely to do the thing you just did. If you get a kick of dopamine everything you exercise, you’re more likely to continue doing so. Also, a 2011 study by Robert Emmons and Anjali Mishra found that people feel motivated and energized when they experience gratitude and that gratitude encourages them to make progress towards their goals of self-improvement. 


Maintaining a grateful attitude is beneficial for many reasons. Even if it weren’t for the many positives, it would still be worthwhile to show appreciation for what and who you have in your life. Your life will be fuller and richer for having expressed your gratitude to those who deserve it.


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