🙏 The benefits of gratitude
that we might not know
🇮🇹 👉 Italian version [LINK HERE]
Recently I have been looking into the topic of gratitude and its effects.
Gratitude, which I would define as a beautiful feeling that brings light and serenity into the lives of those who perceive it and, as a reflection, into the souls of the people we interact with.
❓ But what is gratitude and what are its effects?
Gratitude is a positive interpersonal emotion, linked to the sense of gratitude you feel towards someone when you perceive that you have benefited from a help, a gift or a favour. The psychologist Robert Emmons identifies two main components of gratitude: the first is the pause to become aware of the good things in the world and in one's own life, the other is the recognition that the sources of these positive aspects are also outside oneself. Gratitude, therefore, does not only mean saying “thank you” to someone who has helped us, but is a positive emotion with many aspects.
📖 In the book “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier”, Dr. Robert A. Emmons has collected the most recent studies on gratitude. Particularly interesting is a study that involved three groups of volunteers over a period of 10 weeks:
- The first group was asked to write down 5 things every week for 10 weeks that they had been grateful for during the previous 7 days.
- The second group was asked to write down 5 problems they had faced.
- The third group was asked to write down five events they had experienced.
At the end of the experiment it was found that all members of the first group (the “gratitude group”) were on average 25 per cent happier than the other participants. In practice, the members of the “gratitude group” consistently demonstrated a more optimistic attitude towards the future, a general wellbeing and even a trend towards more physical activity.
📌 Scientific research analysing the relationship between personality, gratitude and well-being has shown that gratitude is a determining factor in psychological well-being. Grateful people are more outgoing, sympathetic, open-minded and conscientious and less neurotic. In addition, grateful people experience more positive emotions, more life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, good feelings, empathy, generosity, and less depression and stress.
The predisposition to gratitude has numerous other benefits, including
Increases self-esteem: bringing attention to the positive encourages recognition of your qualities.
It improves mood: by encouraging the recovery of positive autobiographical memories.
Improves social relationships: Grateful people are kinder, which encourages the building of new bonds and improves existing relationships.
Improves stress tolerance: promotes a positive approach to difficult situations and increases coping skills.
Reduces regrets: grateful people are more likely to focus on the favourable, rather than unpleasant, outcomes of life.
Reduces attachment to material possessions: Grateful people identify their satisfaction less in terms of material achievements and possessions.
Changes the brain: The more you train your brain to feel and express gratitude, the more it adapts to this mindset.
Improves physical health: by lowering blood pressure and strengthening the immune system.
Improves sleep: by encouraging the presence of positive thoughts in the pre-sleep period and reducing the presence of negative ones.
👉 Gratitude in practice - effective techniques to get started
1. The gratitude diary
Every day, before you go to sleep, write down 3 things you have been grateful for during the day. Nothing fancy, just 3 events or situations without which your life would have been a little worse: a good meal, an inspiring chat, a small success, etc.
2. Use your senses
In Emmons' study, almost 80% of the members of the "gratitude group" mentioned something related to their health as something to be grateful for. Being healthy also means being able to appreciate our five senses. Throughout the day, focus on your ability to perceive the world around you and be grateful for a particularly pleasant landscape (sight), a piece of music that has delighted you (hearing), the smell of freshly baked bread (smell), the taste of a delicious dish (taste), the pleasant touch on your skin on freshly ironed sheets (touch).
3. Find unlikely reasons to be grateful
Practising gratitude when you're having a bad day is tough. But it's actually important to do it in these moments, so learn to think about what went wrong and all the unlikely... positive consequences. Dropped your smartphone? Here's an opportunity for a “media diet”. Use your imagination and find unlikely reasons to say “thank you”.
🔗 If you want to read more, I recommend this article [LINK HERE].
📜 👉 What do you think about the practice of gratitude? Had you already heard about it? Are you already doing it or are you going to think about it?
Let me know in the comments!
As always, I'm happy to help you learn more. If you'd like to have a sparring partner or have a chat about this or other topics, feel free to leave a comment and I'll be in touch.
🙏 A special thank you to my brother Massimo who corrects all these emails and to my partner Marta who supports me and encourages me to be constant in this project of sharing articles and thoughts.
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