Practicing gratitude on a regular basis is good for you. Gratitude has been linked to better physical health, stronger interpersonal relationships, and improved self-esteem and emotional well-being. By focusing on the good, you not only decrease negative feelings, you also experience more positive emotions. If you want to increase feelings of happiness and joy, a regular gratitude practice such as keeping a gratitude journal is a good idea.
What Does Gratitude Mean
Gratitude refers to noticing and expressing appreciation for all the good in your life. Instead of focusing on the negative, and the things that you don’t like, practicing gratitude requires you to focus on the positive, and the things you appreciate. Since it is natural for your brain to assess every situation you are in for danger, and to dwell on the negative in order to keep you alive, purposely focusing on what is going well can have a number of noticeable benefits. In fact, practicing gratitude on a regular basis can be very good for you. It can have a positive effect on your relationships and your physical and emotional well-being.
Practicing Gratitude Improves Self-Esteem
Practicing gratitude can improve your self-esteem. When you practice gratitude on a regular basis, your focus shifts to what is good. Instead of noticing what isn’t going well, how you don’t measure up to others, or the things you dislike, you begin to notice what you like and enjoy. This positive outlook enables you to be more aware of your own positive qualities as well. It is harder to be unkind to yourself when you are paying attention to all of your blessings. By focusing on all of the good things in your own life, you are less likely to compare yourself negatively to others. Practicing gratitude creates a more positive mindset that can enhance your self-esteem and overall happiness.
Practicing Gratitude Strengthens Relationships
Relationships can strengthen when you sustain a regular gratitude practice. Practicing gratitude can help your relationships improve because it encourages you to focus on the positive traits of the people in your life. This includes your friends, family, and partner. Remembering what you appreciate about the important people in your life can decrease arguments and improve your emotional connection. If you practice gratitude, you are less likely to be critical of your family members, and more likely to thank them for their efforts. Since it feels good to both give and receive appreciation, when you share your gratitude in your relationships, your loved ones are more likely to reciprocate as well.
Practicing Gratitude Enhances Optimism
Engaging in a regular gratitude practice can make you more optimistic. This is due to the fact that gratitude is about looking for the positives in your life. As you notice all of the good in your life, you begin to anticipate more positives in your future. Practicing gratitude releases the feel good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. This helps you experience and sustain good feelings and creates a positive feedback loop. The more you practice gratitude, the better you feel and the more optimistic you become. This makes you want to continue to practice gratitude.
Practicing Gratitude Improves Physical Health
Gratitude can also improve your physical health. Some studies found that practicing gratitude can improve sleep, improve cardiovascular health, and decrease general aches and pains. People who practice gratitude report having a healthier lifestyle. They also report exercising regularly. Those who practice gratitude are also more likely to attend their yearly physicals and to follow the advice of their doctor.
Practicing Gratitude Improves Emotional Health
Along with your physical health, a regular gratitude practice can also improve your emotional well-being. When you are feeling stressed or worried, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Practicing gratitude not only releases the feel good hormones, but it also decreases the release of cortisol. While it is not enough to treat mental health issues, practicing gratitude can improve feelings of happiness and contentment. Those who consistently practice gratitude are less likely to compare themselves to others. This reduces negative emotions such as envy, resentment, and regret.
If you want to improve your overall emotional well-being, it’s a good idea to practice gratitude on a regular basis. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to do this. My new book, A Year of Gratitude Journal, will be released on August 10 and can be preordered on Amazon by following this link. The book provides 52 weeks of writing prompts, exercises, and quotes and affirmations to help you cultivate a weekly gratitude practice for a year of positivity and joy.