Magic of Gratitude
When was the last time that you were actually thankful of something? Has it ever occurred to you lately as well, if you’ve been thankful enough for what’s going on with your life recently? Have you been counting your blessings before the day ends? If you still haven’t, maybe you should.
Recollecting how the day went, and being thankful for the good things that happened, whether it was just simple things or amazing ones does wonders to people in a lot of ways. Psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons from University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of University of Miami had conducted a lot of research regarding the effects of ‘gratitude’ to people and their overall well-being.
Much of their research can be summarized to a simple concept; How gratitude affects each and every one of us and our mental states. And as we already know, the body and mind are one – What affects the mind, soon affects the body and vice-versa, which is why it’s so important to make sure that we’re also not neglecting our mental health and solely focused on how our bodies are. You can be physically fit and flaunt a nice, toned body but still suffer from unseen mental problems such as depression or anxiety.
But going back to topic, what does ‘gratitude’ do for us and how does it help? According to Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough’s research conducted on three different groups of individuals who were asked to keep a journal and write how their day went. The group who placed importance in ‘gratitude’ and being thankful to all the things that happened to them each day became more optimistic and felt better at their lives after more than 2 months of doing so and are even less likely to take trips to physicians. These people have also become less prone to fits of rage and anger and displayed a brighter, more positive outlook at life.
When we are being grateful to the things that we have in life, we become more appreciative and are able to see the value of things even better. No matter how little of something that happened today, be thankful that it did. These little things build up over a greater and bigger “good” over time and they also spread to the people around you. Happiness and gratitude are contagious after all, and by receiving & reciprocating gratitude, we are also ‘healing’ ourselves and people.
“Gratitude is associated with a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person”
- Emmons & McCullough
Benefits of being thankful
Gratitude is always associated with happiness. This affirmation brings out so much positive energy and emotions that the benefits always outweighs any cons (even at this moment, we couldn’t think of anything bad that could come out of being grateful!) and here are a few reasons why you should be always thankful.
- Gratitude is a precursor to happiness – When we are genuinely thankful of something, we ‘appreciate’ its value no matter how small or big it is. When we appreciate something, we become happy for it. When we are happy about it, we are able to achieve ‘contentment’ and peace of mind follows; Something that’s considered a valuable mental commodity these days. And because we are able to derive and distribute feelings of pleasure out of gratitude, our overall health and well-being is improved.
British psychologist Robert Holden conducted a survey and found out that 65 out of his 100 volunteers have prioritized “happiness” over “health” even though they indicated that both are just as equally important in living a fulfilling life. This led him to suggest as well in his studies that a lot of psychopathological conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety are leading causes of unhappiness.
- Improves relationships – The bonds between people are imperative to our growth as a person. These bonds and relationships that we have with people are built on foundations of trust and understanding. Trust and understanding are further developed through the expression of gratitude and being thankful, which is essentially important on settings like workplaces and any given community.
Studies had also shown that partners who have expressed gratitude to each other often, greatly helped in sustaining their long-lasting relationships even better.
- Gratitude “detoxifies” the brain – The “limbic system” is a region in our brain responsible for controlling, processing, and receiving all sorts of chemicals and neurotransmitters which involves all emotional experiences and activities. The Amygdala and Hippocampus are parts of this region and they are “activated” when feelings of ‘gratitude’ are involved. These two parts are responsible for regulating emotions and memory as well and when they’re ‘activated’, people remember things better and generally feel better.
- You sleep better – People sleep better when they know they did a good job at work or at school. When they’re affirmed and appreciated, which again, what gratitude does. The “Hypothalamus”, another part of the brain that controls bodily functions and most importantly, sleep, triggers better and deeper sleep naturally when it is activated. And once again, this is activated as well through feelings of gratitude according to Dr. Zahn.
- Helps you overcome challenges better – Gratitude helps us overcome challenges and setbacks by fostering adaptive coping mechanisms. According to Dr. Gloria & Steinhardt, being able to properly manage positive emotions helps us become more resilient and builds our inner strength – a primary defense against external stressors and negative emotions. Being thankful to the things that we have and had experienced makes us become better judges of ourselves and for what to come.
Building and cultivating a thankful environment
Now that you know how gratitude helps us and its importance to the collective growth of everyone, consider for a moment how the world would be without it. Scary isn’t it? Everything will be gloomy and respect will be built upon tyrannical concepts such as fear. The mere thought of such scenario is very repulsive that we even get shivers every time we talk about it here with colleagues!
So, what do we do to avoid something like that from happening?
We help people learn people to get the most out of life to see the value of the good things life has to offer by being more thankful each day, a practice we also encourage in our community as we’re not always just about socialization and building networks. We are a community that’s committed in fostering the well-being of everyone so we invite you, to join us in promoting gratitude and spreading it throughout the world even further!