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Do you want more from your life?
What if I told you that just one thing can help you in all of those areas?
One strategy that can help is to develop the habit of gratitude.
But what is gratitude?
Gratitude is simply taking time to think about all the positive things in your life. Rather than ruminating on the negatives. It does not necessarily necessitate actually telling anyone else you are thankful for the things they have done. (although, that helps)
Gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools for increasing happiness. Research shows it is the single most powerful method of increasing happiness.
Having an attitude of gratitude doesn’t cost any money. It doesn’t take much time. But the benefits of gratitude are enormous. Research reveals gratitude can have these seven benefits:
Positive psychology research has shown that gratitude touches on many aspects of our lives. Our emotions. Personality. Social dynamics. Career success and health. All of these can contribute to increasing our basic happiness.
An example of these benefits of gratitude and how they work to improve happiness is illustrated in the image below.
This list of gratitude benefits was compiled by aggregating the results of more than 50 research studies on gratitude.
This list gives a detailed review of 31 benefits of gratitude. Showing the science behind each claim, and showing us why gratitude exercises and gratitude apps can make such a potent impact on increasing our happiness.
What You Will Learn
- 1. Gratitude makes us happier.
- 2. Gratitude makes people like us.
- 3. Gratitude makes us healthier.
- 4. Gratitude boosts our career.
- 5. Gratitude strengthens our positive emotions.
- 6. Gratitude develops our personality.
- How Gratitude Affects Personality
- 7. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.
- 8. Gratitude reduces materialism.
- 9. Gratitude increases spiritualism.
- 10. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.
- 11. Gratitude increases self-esteem.
- How Gratitude Affects Health
- 12. Gratitude improves your sleep.
- 13. Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor.
- 14. Gratitude lets you live longer.
- 15. Gratitude increases your energy levels.
- 16. Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise.
- How Gratitude Affects Emotions
- 17. Gratitude helps us bounce back.
- 18. Gratitude makes us feel good.
- 19. Gratitude makes our memories happier.
- 20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.
- 21. Gratitude helps us relax.
- How Gratitude Affects Social Interaction
- 22. Gratitude makes you friendlier.
- 23. Gratitude helps your marriage.
- 24. Gratitude makes you look good.
- 25. Gratitude helps you make friends.
- 26. Gratitude deepens friendships.
- How Gratitude Affects Career
- 27. Gratitude makes you a more effective manager.
- 28. Gratitude helps you network.
- 29. Gratitude increases your goal achievement.
- 30. Gratitude improves your decision making.
- 31. Gratitude increases your productivity.
Let's get to it…
1. Gratitude makes us happier.
A five-minute daily gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.a1,a2,a3 That's the same impact as doubling your income!a4
How can a free five-minute activity compare? Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career.
Sure, having more money can be pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaptation we quickly get used to it and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first.
How can 5 minutes a day have such a large impact?
Gratitude makes us feel more gratitude. It is a positivity loop that increases this feeling over time.
This is why a five-minute a week gratitude journal can make us so much happier. The actual gratitude produced during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful mood.
While in a grateful mood, we will feel gratitude more frequently, when we do feel gratitude it will be more intense and held for longer, and we will feel gratitude for more things at the same time.
In five words – gratitude triggers positive feedback loops.
Many people think that getting something like a raise or a promotion at work is what it will take to make them happier. But this just isn't true, due to something called hedonic adaptation.
Let's find out more about hedonic adaptation and why this makes gratitude so powerful for happiness.
After repeated exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus, we tend to experience less of the emotion. Put more simply, we get used to the good things that happen to us.
This also means that we get used to the bad things that happen to us.
Those who have been disabled have a remarkable ability to rebound – initially, they may feel terrible, but after months or years, they are often (on average) just as happy as everyone else.
Hedonic adaptation gives unparalleled resiliency and keeps us motivated to achieve even greater things.
It can also kill our marriages – we get used to our amazing spouse (or kids, or job, or house, or car, or game). We stop seeing what we are used to as positives and start complaining.
It is a psychological imperative to fight hedonic adaptation if we want to maximize happiness. Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal because it helps remind us of the good things that are already in our lives.
Why does daily gratitude take months to be most effective?
In all relevant studies, changes occurred slowly. It took several months of continuous practice for the largest benefits of gratitude to appear. This is for two reasons:
- Cultivating gratitude is a skill. After three months of practice, I now have the ability to self-generate slight feelings of gratitude and happiness on command. With more time and practice, I expect the intensity and duration of the generated feelings to increase.
- Gratitude is a personality trait. Some people have more grateful personalities than others. Daily gratitude practice can change our personality, but that takes a long time.
(And if you're looking for another way to feel happier, then I also recommend exercising, specifically building a running habit.)
2. Gratitude makes people like us.
Gratitude generates social capital – in two studies with 243 total participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital.b1
Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.b2
3. Gratitude makes us healthier.
Believe it or not. Gratitude can positively affect our health in many ways. Check it out:
In case you can't read the physical benefits opf gratitude image above. the studies show gratitude can decrease pain, reduce bad health symptoms, increase time spent exercising. Increase sleep time. Increase sleep quality. Lower blood pressure. Increase energy and more. There is even reason to believe gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years.f2,f3,f4
4. Gratitude boosts our career.
Gratitude makes you a more effective manager,c1,c2 helps you network, increases your decision-making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you find mentors and proteges.b1 As a result, gratitude helps you achieve your career goals, as well as making your workplace a more friendly and enjoyable place to be.a2, b2
I'm not suggesting that criticism and self-focus don't have a place in the workplace, but I think we're overdoing it.
According to one study, 65% of Americans didn't receive recognition in the workplace last year.c3 A bit more gratitude at work might be nice for us all.
5. Gratitude strengthens our positive emotions.
Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.b2,d1,d2,d3
6. Gratitude develops our personality.
It really does, and in potentially life-changing ways.a2,b2,d2,e1,e2
If you're a man, don't worry; gratitude won't transform you into a woman
Not convinced? Want to know the details or explore the science that backs up these claims? Click below to go to the specific category or benefit that interests you, or just continue scrolling.
The rest of this article breaks down exactly how gratitude can benefit us in these 5 areas of life: personality, health, emotion, social and career, and all the ways it helps us in each of these aspects.
Let's start by seeing what gratitude can do for our personality.
How Gratitude Affects Personality
7. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.
Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Optimism, in turn, makes us happier, improves our health, and has been shown to increase lifespan by as much as a few years.f1,f2,f3,f4 I'd say a 5 minute a day gratitude journal would be worth it just for this benefit.
The science behind gratitude and optimism
How does gratitude increase optimism?
The act of gratitude is the act of focusing on the good in life.
If we perceive our current life to have more good, we will also believe in our future life to have greater potential for good.
Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are biologically more likely to focus on the good (gratitude) than on the bad (personal disappointment, loneliness, anxiety, etc…).
8. Gratitude reduces materialism.
Materialism is strongly correlated with reduced well-being and increased rates of mental disorder.g1
There's nothing wrong with wanting more.
The problem with materialism is that it makes people feel less competent, reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude, reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life, generates negative emotions, and makes them more self-centered.g1,g2,g3
The pursuit of wealth and power has been shown in dozens of studies to be a highly inefficient method of increasing well-being and happiness.
To be sure, if your income doubles you will be slightly happier. But how much effort do you think is involved in doubling your income? How many sacrifices are required? Motivational speakers will tell you that the money is worth the sacrifices. I disagree.
Even worse, after you increase your income, the positive benefits will slowly fade due to hedonic adaptation (mentioned earlier).
Applying that same level of energy it takes to double your income towards strengthening one's relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on will more reliably create positive, transformative change.
Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.
How does gratitude reduce materialism?
Materialism flows from two sources: role models and insecurity.
- Americans are inundated with materialistic role models every day: from advertisements which highlight materialistic themes, to celebrity culture which glorifies the rich and frivolous, to business culture in which we are told our dreams should be to be rich and powerful. Gratitude helps by reducing our tendency to compare ourselves to those with a higher social status.
- Those who are insecure, that is, those that have not had their basic psychological needs met (e.g. those who lack confidence, come from a poor background, or had unsupportive parents), are more likely to be materialistic. Gratitude is an effective strategy for reducing insecurity. A grateful emotion is triggered when we perceive an act of benevolence directed towards us. Those who are dispositionally ungrateful are therefore less likely to perceive acts of benevolence, even if they are surrounded by a loving environment. Flipped around, those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude are more likely to perceive an environment of benevolence, which in turn causes their brains to assume they are in an environment full of social support, which in turn kills insecurity and materialism.
Will Gratitude make me lazy?
Those who are more materialistic are more likely to relentlessly pursue wealth.
So while gratitude won't make you lazy, over your lifetime you may end up earning less money.
You will instead re-focus on other things. You may, for example, spend time with friends, family, and your hobbies. That's a good thing.
9. Gratitude increases spiritualism.
Spiritual transcendence is highly correlated with feelings of gratitude. That is – the more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be grateful.
There are two reasons for this spiritual | gratitude connection:
I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities.
Why does spirituality give rise to grateful behavior?
Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude.
For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness.
Both are prerequisites for feeling gratitude – someone who feels weak connections with others, and who believes in the illusion of self-sufficiency is unlikely to feel gratitude.
10. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.
I'll be totally honest, I'm a self-centered twat. I'm a lot better now that I've brought gratitude into my life, but I still spend way too much time thinking about myself, and too little thinking about others.
I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices, I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others.
This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on their acts of benevolence).
In this regard, gratitude practice can be better than self-esteem therapy. Self-esteem therapy focuses the individual back on themselves: I'm smart, I look good, I can succeed, etc….
That can work, but it can also make us narcissistic or ultimately even back-fire and negatively impact self-esteem.i1
11. Gratitude increases self-esteem.
Imagine a world where no one helps you. Despite your asking and pleading, no one helps you.
Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you. In which world do you think you would have more self-esteem? Gratitude helps to create a world like that.
Gratitude creates a more supportive social dynamic in two ways:
- Gratitude has been shown, in multiple studies, to make people kinder and more friendly. Because of that, grateful people have more social capital. This means that grateful people are actually more likely to receive help from others for no reason other than that they are liked and appreciated.
- Gratitude increases your recognition of benevolence. For example, a person with low self-esteem may view an act of kindness with a skeptical eye, thinking that the benefactor is trying to get something from them. A grateful person would take the kindness at face value, believing themselves to be a person worthy of receiving no-strings-attached kindness.
- Gratitude makes you feel better about yourself. Chances are good that you do not do good things simply because it makes you feel good about yourself. But it is a nice side effect. Coupling gratitude with things like positive mantras will help to increase your confidence even more.
How Gratitude Affects Health
Now let's look at five of the ways that gratitude benefits health. Sleep. General health. Longer life. Increased energy. Exercise.
12. Gratitude improves your sleep.
Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. Said differently, gratitude can help with insomnia.a2,j1
The key is what's on our minds as we're trying to fall asleep. If it's worries about the kids, or anxiety about work, the level of stress in our body will increase, reducing sleep quality, keeping us awake, and cutting our sleep short.
If it's thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way.
Yes – gratitude is a (safe and free) sleep aid.
Let's look at the science of how gratitude helps us sleep.
In one study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition, those who were assigned a daily gratitude journal to be completed at night reported half an hour more sleep than the control group.a2
In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep. They reported a faster time to get to sleep, improved sleep quality, increased sleep duration, and less difficulty staying awake during the day.j1
The reason grateful people sleep better is not that their life was simply better – levels of gratitude are more dependent on personality and life perspective than on life situations.
13. Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor.
Gratitude can't cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning.
Positive emotion improves health. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. This fact comes from 137 research studies.
Gratitude is a positive emotion.
It's no far stretch that some of the benefits (e.g. better coping & management of terminal conditions like cancer and HIV,k1,k2 faster recovery from certain medical procedures, positive changes in immune system functioning,k3 more positive health behavior,k4,k5 etc…) apply to gratitude as well.
In fact, some recent science shows just that – those who engage in gratitude practices have been shown to feel less pain, go to the doctor less often, have lower blood pressure, and be less likely to develop a mental disorder.a1,a2,k6
Why Gratitude Impacts Health:
14. Gratitude lets you live longer.
I will be honest with you – by combining the results of a few different studies I'm confident that gratitude can extend lifespan, but I have not seen a study deep enough to actually proven this claim. It just seems likely.
Here is what we know: optimism has been used to successfully predict mortality decades later.f2,f3,f4
Studies have shown that optimistic people lived a few years longer than pessimistic. A few years may not sound like much, but I know when I'm about to die I'd like to have a few more years!
We also know that gratitude is strongly correlated with positive emotions like optimism.
So, gratitude –> optimism –> an extra few months or years on earth.
With positive psychology research on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years with some longer life length studies.
15. Gratitude increases your energy levels.
Gratitude and vitality are strongly correlated – the grateful are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor.
Let's look at the research on gratitude and increased energy
- Study of 238 people found a correlation of .46 between vitality and gratitude.e2
- A study of 1662 people found a correlation of .38 between vitality and gratitude.
- The same study found correlations above .3 even after controlling for the levels of extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and perceived social desirability.e2 This means that vitality and gratitude are strongly correlated even after considering the possibility that they are correlated because high-energy people and high-gratitude people share personality traits like extroversion in common.
Do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude, does gratitude lead to increased energy, or is something else going on?
The only question we are left with is a chicken and egg scenario. Do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude? Does gratitude lead to increased energy? Or is something else going on?
My belief is that it's two of those three:
- People with high levels of vitality tend to have some of the same traits that highly grateful people do, like high levels of optimism and life satisfaction.
- Gratitude increases physical and mental well-being, which in turn increases energy levels.
[Want some more energy? Check out this great article on 20 ways to increase your energy levels.]
16. Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise.
In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.a2 No other study has yet to replicate these results. It could be because other gratitude studies testing this effect have been much shorter – in the range of one to three weeks, or it could be because this result was a fluke.
Once again, time will tell – but it would not surprise me if being grateful for one's health would increase one's tendency to want to protect it by exercising more.
[Sidebar: As a reminder, if you'd like to build the gratitude journal habit, then this journal can help.]
How Gratitude Affects Emotions
Gratitude is an emotion, so it probably is not a stretch to consider that it could positively affect other emotions.
In this section of the benefits of gratitude, we shall look at how gratitude increases resilience and good feelings, positively colors memories. Reduces envy and helps us relax.
Let's dig deeper into how gratitude impacts these emotions…
17. Gratitude helps us bounce back.
We all get “down” at times. Depression. Anxiety. Loneliness. It happens to us all.
Gratitude is not going to make you magically “immune” to these negative feelings. They are a part of life's experience. However, people who express gratitude are more resilient. Meaning they “bounce back” faster. These negative emotional swings simply do not last as long.
Those that have more gratitude have a more pro-active coping style, are more likely to have and seek out social support in times of need, are less likely to develop PTSD, and are more likely to grow in times of stress.b1,b2,d1
18. Gratitude makes us feel good.
Surprise, surprise: gratitude actually feels good.
Yet only 20% of Americans rate gratitude as a positive and constructive emotion (compared to 50% of Europeans).l1
According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the-fact to have been caused by the kindness of others. Gratitude doesn't just make us happier, it is happiness in and of itself!
That's no surprise – we idealize the illusion of self-sufficiency. Gratitude, pah!
That's for the weak, right?
F&ck no it's not.
Gratitude feels good, and if the benefits on this page are any indication – gratitude will make you stronger, healthier, and more successful.
Are you afraid to admit that luck, God, family members, friends, and/or strangers have and will continue to strongly influence your life?
I once was – not only was I less happy, I was also weaker. It takes strength to admit to the truth of inter-dependency.
19. Gratitude makes our memories happier.
Our memories are not set in stone, like data stored on a hard-drive.
There are dozens of ways our memories get changed over time – we remember things as being worse than they actually were, as being longer or shorter, people as being kinder or crueler, as being more or less interesting, and so on.
Experiencing gratitude in the present makes us more likely to remember positive memories in a positive light. It can actually transform some of our neutral or even negative memories into positive ones.m2
In one study, putting people into a grateful mood helped them find closure of upsetting open memories.m2
During these experiences, participants were more likely to recall the positive aspects of the memory than usual, and some of the negative and neutral aspects were transformed into positives.
Why does this memory work like this?
The reason why is called cognitive bias.
According to Wikipedia, a cognitive bias is a “systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality”
If you want to find out more about cognitive bias and what you can do about it, here are two great books on the subject: Thinking, Fast and Slow (written by the founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman), and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).
20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.
A small bit of jealousy or envy directed at the right target is motivating. It can encourage us to work harder and try to achieve the things we envy in others.
But only a touch of envy and jealousy is good.
Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness.
How does gratitude reduce feelings of envy?
The personality trait of envy has a correlation of -.39 with the personality trait of gratitude. In addition, on days when people experience more gratitude, they are also more likely to experience less envy.e2
This is likely because an attitude of envy and an attitude of gratitude are largely incompatible. Just like it is impossible to feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, gratitude is the act of perceiving benevolence, while envy and jealousy is the act of perceiving inadequacy. Benevolence and inadequacy cannot be completely perceived at the same time.
21. Gratitude helps us relax.
Gratitude and positive emotion, in general, are among the strongest relaxants known to man.
I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn't relax. I'll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard!
In this case, too hard – I ended up getting out of bed.
Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique.
Think of it like tea – one or two cups help you relax – three of four make you want to empty your bladder. But it could just be me. Perhaps you'll find practices of gratitude more natural and easy.
How Gratitude Affects Social Interaction
22. Gratitude makes you friendlier.
Multiple studies have shown that gratitude induces pro-social behavior.
Keeping a gratitude journal is enough to make you more likely to help others with their problems and makes you more likely to offer them emotional support.a2,b1
Why is this true?
There are two main reasons gratitude makes people friendlier:
- Gratitude helps us perceive kindness, which we have a natural tendency to want to reciprocate. Without the feeling of gratitude, we may not recognize when someone is helping us (the same way anger lets us know when someone is trying to harm us).
- Gratitude makes us happier and more energetic, both of which are highly linked to pro-social behavior.
23. Gratitude helps your marriage.
One way marriages start to suffer is that when the passion starts to fizzle, the partners become less appreciative and naggier.
Scientists have put numbers to our intuition and experience, creating an appreciation to “naggy ratio”. More formally called the Losada ratio, it divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement, and appreciation) made during a typical interaction by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism).
When the ratio was below .9, that is there were 11% more negative expressions than positive expressions, marriages tend to plummet towards divorce or languishment. Those marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positivity ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).s1
Building regular practices of gratitude into your marriage is an easy but effective way of raising your positivity ratio. I am sure you want your spouse to appreciate the things you do. Showing them gratitude is just one way to help them give gratitude back to you
Is the Losada ratio applied to marriage correlation or causation?
Does the positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of a marriage, or does it simply reflect underlying happiness or conflict?
Would ‘faking' a higher positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of your marriage, or would it be the same as faking your income on a survey – it may let you temporarily feel better, but it doesn't actually make you any richer?
There is a reason to believe it is both.
What we say and how we act becomes who we are.
Faking a smile has been shown to actually make people happier. But the effect is only so strong. I believe that for gratitude to truly effect a marriage, it must come from the heart. With enough practice and effort, it can.
Finally, you shouldn't take the Losada numbers too literally. A good rule of thumb is three or four positives for each negative means you're doing well.
24. Gratitude makes you look good.
Ingratitude is universally regarded with contempt. It's opposite, gratitude is considered a virtue in all major religions and most modern cultures. It may not be sexy to be grateful, but people will respect you for it.
Gratitude is not the same thing as indebtedness, which we rightly avoid.
Indebtedness is a negative emotion that carries an assumption of repayment for favors done.
Gratitude is not the same thing as weakness. Weakness is flattery or subservience.
Gratitude is the acknowledgment of kindness with thanks.
It takes big balls to acknowledge that we didn't get to where we are all on our own – that without others we may never have made it. That's why, just maybe, gratitude may be sexy too.
25. Gratitude helps you make friends.
When I was in college I found it really easy to make new friends. If I hadn't moved out of NYC it would still be easy – living in a farm town makes it difficult. I've found an effective way to start a conversation or move a relationship forward is an expression of gratitude, “thank you for that coffee, it was super delicious.” *wink, wink*
Ah, my mistake – that's actually what I use to hit on my barista.
But you get the point.
26. Gratitude deepens friendships.
I have one friend who always deeply thanks me for taking the time to see her. That makes me feel appreciated and that makes me feel good. Wouldn't it make you feel good too?
How Gratitude Affects Career
In the final section of the benefits of gratitude, we cover how being grateful can help you advance your career.
Remember, most of these topics we are going to cover are going to be general career advancement. If you have a job that has a degree of public relations, these reasons may become even more pointed and important.
27. Gratitude makes you a more effective manager.
Effective management requires a toolbox of skills. Criticism comes all too easily to most, while the ability to feel gratitude and express praise is often lacking.
Timely, sincere, specific, behavior-focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Specifically, multiple studies have found expressions of gratitude to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism to be slightly de-motivating but providing more expectation clarification.t1,t2
Contrary to expectation, if praise is moderate and behavior focused, repeat expressions of gratitude will not lose their impact, and employee performance will increase.2
Because of our culture, expressions of gratitude are often difficult to give – cultivating an attitude of gratitude will help.
I've seen firsthand the powerful difference between interacting with subordinates more with praise and interacting with some more with criticism. Those I've given more praise are more enthusiastic about working with me, express more creativity, and are so much more fun to work with.
28. Gratitude helps you network.
Gratitude has been shown across a number of studies to increase social behavior. Two longitudinal studies showed that those with higher levels of gratitude actually developed more social capital than those with lower levels.
Gratitude helps you get mentors, proteges, and benefactors.
Those who are more grateful are more likely to help others, and to pay it forward, that is, to take on mentoring relationships. But I'm guessing you care more about getting help from mentors and benefactors than being a mentor yourself. Well, that makes sense – having one or more mentors dramatically increases one's success rate.
The first level is simple – those who are grateful are more social and also more likely to ask for help. But it goes one step further – we all ask for help at one time, one of the key differences between one-off help and establishing a mentoring relationship is gratitude.
Flipped around, what is it that makes a person want to help you on a continuous basis? Gratitude – that their wisdom, experience, and time are well appreciated, mentors will find enjoyment from the process, continuing to help you for weeks, months, or years.
29. Gratitude increases your goal achievement.
In one study, participants were asked to write down those goals which they wished to accomplish over the next two months. Those who were instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported more progress on achieving their goals at the end of the study. One result doesn't make science – what you should take away from this is that, at the least, gratitude will not make you lazy and passive. It might even do the opposite!
30. Gratitude improves your decision making.
Decision making is really tiring – so tiring that we automate to our subconscious much of the reasoning that goes behind making a decision. Even for the most basic of decisions, like where to go eat, there are dozens of variables to consider: how much time and money do I want to spend, what cuisine would I like today, am I willing to travel far, what should I get once I get there, and so on. If you deliberated on each of these decisions one at a time, your mind would be overwhelmed.
The problem gets even worse for more complex decisions like making a diagnosis.
In one study, doctors were given a list of ailments from a hypothetical patient and also given a misleading piece of information—that the patient had been diagnosed at another hospital as having lupus. Half the doctors had gratitude evoked by giving them a token of appreciation. Those who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis of lupus; those who did receive the gratitude were energized to expend more energy and to pay their gratitude forward onto their patient. They also considered a wider range of treatment options.
The above study shows that gratitude motivates improved decision making. Those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude find tokens of appreciation every day, on their own.
31. Gratitude increases your productivity.
Those who are insecure have difficulty focusing because many of their mental resources are tied up with their worries. On the other hand, those who are highly confident are able to be more productive, because they can direct more of their focus towards their work. This operates at both a conscious and subconscious level – we may be getting mentally distracted by our worries, or more commonly, parts of our subconscious mind are expending energy to suppress negative information and concerns.z1
As gratitude has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce insecurity, this means that it can help us focus and improve our productivity.
Gratitude is no cure-all, but it is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness.
Still, want to learn how to practice gratitude on a daily basis?
If so, then check out our physical journal called The 90-Day Gratitude Journal: A Mindful Practice for a Lifetime of Happiness.
With this journal, you will build a powerful daily gratitude habit and re-discover all the great things that are already in your life.
Want to read more about the studies and science behind the benefits of gratitude? Check out the references below
a1. Positive Psychology Progress (2005, Seligman, M. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C.) a2. Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Lifea3. Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Satisfaction with Life: Incremental Validity Above the Domains and Facets of the Five Factor Model a4. Sacks, D. W., Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2012). The new stylized facts about income and subjective well-being. Emotion, 12(6), 1181. b1. The Role of Gratitude in The Development of Social Support, Stress, and Depression: Two Longitudinal Studiesb2. Why Gratitude Enhances Well-Being: What We Know, What We Need to Knowc1. Stone, D. I., & Stone, E. F. (1983). The Effects of Feedback Favorability and Feedback Consistency. Academy Of Management Proceedings (00650668), 178-182. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.1983.4976341c2. Jaworski, B. J., & Kohl, A. K. (1991). Supervisory Feedback: Alternative Types and Their Impact on Salespeople’s Performance and Satisfaction. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 28(2), 190-201.c3. This number has been floating around the internet, but I was actually unable to find the original source. It may be wrong, or I may not have looked in the right places.d1. Coping Style as a Psychological Resource of Grateful Peopled2. Positive Responses to Benefit and Harm: Bringing Forgiveness and Gratitude into Cognitive Psychotherapyd3. Gratitude in Intermediate Affective Terrain: Links of Grateful Moods to Individual Differences and Daily Emotional Experiencee1. Is Gratitude an Alternative to Materialism?e2. The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topographyf1. C. Peterson, L. Bossio. “Optimism and Physical Wellbeing.” Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001: 127-145.f2. Positive Emotions in Early Life and Longevity: Findings From The Nun Study f3. Optimistics vs. Pessimists Survival Rate Among Medical Patients Over a 30-Year Periodf4. Prediction of All-Cause Mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale Scores: Study of a College Sample During a 40-Year Follow-up Period.g1. Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2007). MATERIALISM AND DIMINISHED WELL-BEING: EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE AS A MEDIATING MECHANISM. Journal Of Social & Clinical Psychology, 26(5), 521-539.g2. Belk , R. W. ( 1985 ). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world . Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 265 – 280g3. Sheldon , K. M. , & Kasser , T. ( 1995 ). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 531 543 .h1. Emmons RA, Crumpler CA. Gratitude as human strength: Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 2000;19:849–857.i1. Spinney, L. (2012). All about ME. New Scientist, 214(2862), 44-47.j1. Gratitude Influences Sleep Through the Mechanism of Pre-Sleep Cognitionsk1. Benight C, Bandura A. Social cognitive theory of posttraumatic recovery: The role of perceived self efficacy. Behav Res Ther. 2004; 42(10): 1129–1148 [serial online].k2. Stanton A, Snider P. Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis: A prospective study. Health Psychol. 1993; 12(1): 16–23 [serial online].k3. Segerstrom S, Taylor S, Kemeny M, Fahey J. Optimism is associated with mood, coping and immune change in response to stress. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998; 74(6): 1646–1655 [serial online].k4. Taylor SE, Kemeny ME, Aspinwall LG, Schneider SG, Rodriguez R, Herbert M. Optimism, coping, psychological distress, and high-risk sexual behavior among men at risk for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). J Pers Soc Psychol. 1992; 63: 460–473.k5. Giltay EJ, Geleijnse JM, Zitman FG, Buijsse B, Kromhout D. Lifestyle and dietary correlates of dispositional optimism in men: The Zutphen Elderly Study. J Psychosom Res. 2007; 63: 483–490.k6. Gratitude: Effects on Perspective and Blood Pressure (2007)l1. Emotion and Social Context: An American—German Comparisonm1. Watkins, P.C., D.L. Grimm and R. Kolts: 2004, #Counting your blessings:Positive memories among grateful persons#, Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social 23, pp. 52–67.m2. Watkins, P. C., Cruz, L., Holben, H., & Kolts, R. L. (2008). Taking Care of Business? Grateful Processing of Unpleasant Memories. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 87-99.s1. Fredrickson, B. L., & Losada, M. F. (2005). Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing. American Psychologist, 60(7), 678-686. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.7.678 t1. Stone, D. I., & Stone, E. F. (1983). The Effects of Feedback Favorability and Feedback Consistency. Academy Of Management Proceedings (00650668), 178-182. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.1983.4976341t2. Jaworski, B. J., & Kohl, A. K. (1991). Supervisory Feedback: Alternative Types and Their Impact on Salespeople's Performance and Satisfaction. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 28(2), 190-201.z1. What Neuroscience Reveals about the Nature of Business. Jeffrey L. Fannin, Ph.D. and Robert M. Williams,
M.A.Image Attribution: Smiling Woman, alone in the dark, happy friends
Which benefit excites you? Comment below!
108 thoughts on “31 Benefits of Gratitude: The Ultimate Science-Backed Guide”
Awesome topic – I agree with you on so many points. Gratitude is an amazing emotion that can lead to a lot “more” in your life. happiness as you point out, I also believe that is helps reduce stress. When you are spending your time in gratitude for what you have, rather than worrying about what you should you, your life is much less stressful.
I never thought of it that way. I too agree that gratitude reduces stress, but I hadn’t thought of this particular reason why. Thank you for pointing that out.
You outdid yourself this time. The presentation value of this article is AMAZING! Please write an article for ProBlogger soon about how to make your blog posts look unlike anything else out there and be super interactive. Oh, and please teach me how to make those indented tables like in number 6.
The content was great too (kind of important of course). I’ll admit, I skimmed a little bit but you made it great for me to dive as deep as I wanted in different sections.
Yes! I’m glad the experiment worked. Thank you!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, my posts are too long 🙂 I’m starting to experiment with different ways I can stay true to my personality, while still keeping my articles readable. I’m not sure what’s going to come next, but I know I still have work to do.
I’d be glad to teach you. I’m too lazy to write an article for ProBlogger, but I’m happy to put together a tutorial for you (and other A-list folks).
Ah, I realize my priorities are completely messed up, of course. I shouldn’t be too lazy to write an article for a website that can drive tons of traffic to my site. Whatever 🙂
Thanks Bobbi! How can I pack so much information into one blog? Mm… think of it as a reflection of my personality, it comes out naturally 🙂
The research for this post took an extremely long time (~25-30 hours), but because I’m such a nerd, that was fun and just replaced my usual reading time.
Writing the eBook companion took about 5-7 hours, and writing the actual post took ~6-10 hours, and was the most difficult part. Split up over 3 weeks, 40-50 hours total, or about 2-4 hours each day.
Yeah… not the most efficient use of my time. Whatever 🙂
Amit, I don’t spend that much time blogging, but I definitely do with music, hilarious to see you document it all here.
I feel like you deserve a reply just for that super thorough reply!
Gratitude is an emotion to be grateful that we humans have the blessing/luck to possess. I’m glad I was able to at least partially convey that.
Amit, you keep me laughing, and I’m grateful for that. This article is so uplifting! I immediately grabbed an old gratitude journal off my shelf and dusted it off, then wrote that I’m grateful for your article today; it has touched my life. Very inspiring, not just the message, but also the presentation and organization. I was pleased to be able to recommend this on Google Plus!
You asked what benefit excites me. I will have to choose goals and productivity. Those are on top of my mind most of the time these days. It is good to know there’s something simple I can do for only five minutes each day, that will help me in those areas.
Thank you for sharing on G+ Linda 🙂
I’m glad you’ve dusted off an old gratitude journal. Hopefully this time the habit will stick.
Did you leave the habit behind in the past because you weren’t seeing immediate benefits? I ask because I’m in the process of putting together some motivational information on how to make the habit stick. I think it’s a shame that such an easy happiness booster isn’t more widely applied.
Amit, the main reason I quit writing my gratitudes is that I’m easily distracted and very forgetful. I tend to make and break habits constantly. If you find ways to overcome this problem I’ll be very happy to read about them. Thanks again for your great article! I am grateful for it…
Wow, what an in-depth post! (Though I can’t say I’m surprised 😉 ) I’d say you covered it all when it comes to gratitude… I never knew there were so many benefits to it! I know I felt happier when I kept a gratitude journal, yet somehow mine is still sitting in the trunk of my car. This post just might get me to walk outside and grab it.
Awesome! And thank you – it’s good to know my excessive thoroughness motivated!
Great topic and even greater post!!!
So in depth and such enthusiastic style of writing.
I also believe in gratitude. Writing a list of things I am thankful for helps me visualize how much I have and how happy I really am 🙂
Gratitude is great, isn’t it 😉
You had convinced me with the first paragraph! but I now have every possible angle to reflect on when I try to sabotage myself by not feeling grateful. No more excuses thanks to you. I have just thought of another entry for my gratitude journal; I am grateful for happierhuman.com 🙂
I didn’t intend it as such – but I actually use this list now when I need some motivation to be more grateful. Turns out I’m not the only one 🙂
Came across your blog for the first time and I must say I am impressed!
Following you now on twitter 🙂
It took me about 20 mins to read through the entire post. I mean really read not skim through.
The effort that you have put in is evident in the post.
Have you considered writing a book?
Thank you for taking the time to let me know you actually read all gazillion words.
“Have you considered writing a book?” This question made my day, thank you!
Actually I am – in the past month I’ve written one eBook, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a quality score of 2, and so give it away for free 🙂
I’ll be releasing a draft of my first paid book in January, and would be happy to send you a copy.
The passion shows in your writing. I feel it when I read your post 🙂
All the best for the book. If there’s anything I can do to help let me know. I’ll be happy to lend a hand for free.
Sure would like to share your book with my audience. Perhaps, we can schedule a short interview too once the book is done?
Thank you – it constantly surprises me how friendly some people are on the web 🙂
That would be fantastic! I’d be happy to do an interview and share the book with your audience.
A very good and incisive piece. Do one thing for me please. I think God will appreciate it if you appreciate Him by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I am not asking you to be religious but to enter a personal relationship with the Almighty God, The creator of all things. Your life of GRATITUDE will be complete if you do.
I appreciate you and this blog.
Thank you for your kind words!
I’m sincere when I say this – I wish I could be spiritual and believe in god, because those that are spiritual are generally much happier and more fulfilled than those like me. However, because of my upbringing, personality, and life experience, I do not think there is any chance of that happening. I appreciate your words though.
Try this,…. When I get up in the am to work out ,it’s usually at 5am, not too easy anymore specially when’s its cold and dreary outside but I’ll start out by kissing my beautiful wife mother of my children and say THANK YOU! it would not be any easier if she wasn’t by my side ,then I proceed to my son’s room who’s 12 and is starting to get it, kiss my hand and put it on his face ,smile and say THANK YOU! …..TRY THIS IT WORKS EVERY TIME. 🙂
I love this blog, it really makes you think about what’s important in life! Being kind to not only others but also being kind to yourself can change your life. In recent years I’ve tried to live this way. Helping others as much as possible and helping myself through patience and love. I’ve really been getting involved in charity’s and helping others in need and its made me a better person, I realize how lucky I am too. The cause I’m helping now is helping a family fund raise to rebuild their home after a fire destroyed it and everything they own. The only thing they have left is the clothes on their backs! Here is a link to the fundraiser, http://igg.me/p/221740?a=1179881 I hope others will feel compelled to help also!
Thanks Mike, that’s fantastic!
I personally only donate to givewell.com charities (those which have been determined to provide the most bang for the buck), but I hope your fundraiser goes well, and is able to unstuck itself.
Hi Dr. M G Hiremath,
Thanks for sharing! Would you be able to e-mail me a copy of your paper (amit @ happierhuman . com)? I’d love to give it a read.
Paper is on “ESSENCE OF GRATITUDE QUOTIENT IN INDIVIDUAL” It is available for view on “you tube”
Thanks for sharing! . I will post my views & Ppts.Thanks!
Dr. M G Hiremath,
To answer your question, I’m grateful I don’t have a boss like that SNL video…anymore…;)
Love all of these points and just like so many emotions have an opposite, gratitude leads to happiness, as you so well point out and that leads to less stress, less neurotransmitters firing the fight or flight signal which causes more stress to the entire body (and in the extreme, leads to PTSD with all of its manifestations).
I love most of all the time you spent on the hyperlink grid which leads to various points with synonyms in your post. Made me laugh. I am clipping and sharing.
Amit, this is an awesome list of the benefits of gratitude. I found my way here from the AList club and read through this particular post because I had written an article on how to keep a gratitude journal and wanted to read your ideas on the topic. Wow! You have really done some good research. Gratitude has some far-reaching effects.
Thank you Patti!
Yes, because gratitude is so effective in increasing happiness, and because happiness in turn is so effective in improving our lives, gratitude has some far-reaching effects. I’ve been regularly incorporating gratitude into my life for a few months now – there has been a definite change.
Much like your experience, some of the most radiant moments of my day are when I do gratitude meditation.
I’m a writer and an editor and totally subscribe to what you are saying! I thought you might like to know, especially after doing all the research, that there isn’t really a word “mentee.” The word you’re looking for is protege. Hope you can use this information to your benefit because the misuse of a non-word might make you look a little unbelievable. I think you’ve worked way too hard to give that impression.
All the best!
Thank you for the comment Roberta, I’ve updated the article!
I had no idea mentee wasn’t considered a real word. I need to stop trusting online dictionaries.
Why do you stop yourself from being spiritual? If you have the overwhelming feeling of a good, loving God, why not accept it? Your philosophy of being happy and grateful all go back to God.
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment Michele!
It’s a difference of opinion – I believe happiness and gratitude are secular; that they arise from good use of our biology, not a higher power.
Similar to this, I believe that secular moralism and spiritual adherence coincide quiet well. If one follows the teachings of God, they are likely to be compassionate, devout, honest, etc… I believe if one wishes to make the best use of their biology (secular moralism), I believe they too will make the choice to be compassionate, devout, honest, etc…
Although perhaps your belief then is that God made our biology in such a way that gratitude, compassion, etc… are the most rewarded emotions (e.g. in comparison to jealousy and hatred, which lead to unhappiness)?
I just didn’t understand how you could ignore that innate feeling of which you spoke in your article. I enjoy reading the information on your page. I kind of get what you are saying, but I believe we as humans begin to think we have more power than we really do. I too feel connected spiritually and allow that feeling to progress. I feel people are afraid of the idea of an all powerful God. I do believe God made us to be naturally compassionate and good people. When people are “bad” I truly believe they are going against their true nature and giving in to the opposite spirit in Satan. Although secular moralism is helpful to others I am not sure how that would work because from a young age, I have believed in God.
i so appreciate the way you talk about, make real and reflect on the feeling, concept, practice and impact of gratitude. thank you, Amit, for your thoughtfulness and inspiration in creating and sharing this with us all. Kim
Hello, Amit…. just came across this when I googled ‘the benefits of gratitutde’ …. thanks for a month’s worth of benefits!! happy New Year!
Thanks Barb! Happy New Year’s to you too!
I hope this months worth of benefits was enough to convince you 🙂
This is an amazing article, thank you for taking the time to compile all these resources and put it all together!
This is an amazing article! I’m a freshman and my sister is a junior and we are doing a project on happiness and wellbeing and this helped tremendously,
thank you and we look forward to reading more!
Glad to help Kaya!
Feel free to e-mail me with any questions – I’ll do what I can to provide answers, or at least point you in the right direction.
Wow Amit, impressive post chocked full of useful info! I am very grateful for your post, grateful for the internet, this computer to type on, my fingers to type with, my eyes to read this and my brain for being able to process this. I usually spend my time in the shower in the morning rattling off everything I’m thankful for to get my day started.
That’s a great habit Jessie, thanks for sharing!
Please read “365 Thank yous”. Read it twice. I have sent or hand delivered over 150 thank you cards since the beginning of february. I feel totally calm. I have some serious challenges with work, but I can handle it.
Peace, it’s is really a good place to be.
Thanks for the recommendation John, I just ordered the book!
And I’m grateful I was able to help you – thank you 🙂
Hello! I would wish to provide a enormous thumbs up for the great info you could have here about this post. We are coming back to your blog for further soon.
This is a fabulous article. Thank you for the level of detail that you have included along with the graphics. I work as a dating coach and I am constantly talking to my clients about the practice of gratitude. Now you’ve provided me with some of the “hacks” I can share with them to keep them motivated to stick with their gratitude practice.
Thank you for your work,
One of my primary motivations for practicing gratitude is so that I can be a better partner. It’s great that you share that with your clients!
What other major hacks do you commonly recommend as a dating coach?
Thanks for sharing your story Marshall!
From the customer perspective, I’m much more likely to be a repeat customer or provide leads to someone who is grateful. It just makes the entire interaction more pleasent.
This is an awesome article! It made me happier just reading it! 🙂 Great insight!
We are a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
Your web site provided us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive process and our entire neighborhood can be grateful to you.
THank you for the effort you have put in to compile the research findings systematically and in simple english. Could you help me locate the references which you have marked like a1 a2 a3 a4
A fine piece that I will share. I just emailed the author this response: I like this overview of gratitude and its benefits. One point I’d emphasize is that you research the great spiritual traditions. I think you have misunderstood something important. You write that “Gratitude increases spiritualism.” Actually, spiritualism means that you believe that the spirits of dead people are communicating with us. This notion isn’t a central part of any of the great world religions. It’s not there in Buddhism, for example. Also, on the Buddhist path, one can be overflowing with gratitude without having a notion of God. And then, if you consider the Christian path, one can have a heart overflowing with gratitude, just as you did, without adhering to any particular image of God, because God is not a noun (like “table”). In the Jewish and Christian traditions, God is the great Mystery who births forth this cosmos and cannot be contained by any image, concept, name or theory. In Christianity, this is called the apophatic dimension of spiritual practice. Let go into the gratitude that is continuously flowing throughout all creation and you are in the deep flow of something that is coming through you, but something that you do not own and you did not create. This is a powerful experience, beyond words, ideology and ego. Go with that flow and you’re in line with a vast oceanic blessing that is always happening, whether you participate or not. It’s a relief and a joy to participate.
Wow! Well done survey of the positive effects of practicing gratitude!
Thank you for your post! It was fascinating. I do have one question for you, if gratefulness makes you closer to God, why do you keep pushing him away?
Glad you liked it, thanks for leaving a comment 🙂
From your perspective, the word push might seem appropriate, but from mine that word is not quite right. My estimate of the probability that god exists is .01%. The scientific research on gratitude is exactly that – scientific, and therefore does nothing to shift my probability estimate.
I really liked the gratitude vs wining the lottery graph you have here so I wanted to make sure that it is supported but the papers you cite. As it turns out, in the Brickman et al., paper, the authors did not measure the happiness of lottery winners in a longitudinal manner (right before and after winning the lottery and 6 months later). So, I am not quite sure where your data for the graph come from. As it stands, the graph you’ve made is misleading because it suggests that the happiness of lottery winners decreases over time after the win, something that is not at all shown in the data by the Brickman et al paper you cite. Please advise if you used another paper to create this graph, whether you just misread the paper, or (and I hope not) purposefully mislead your readers.
Thank you Kostadin!
I’ve taken down the graph and amended my text. I have a clear memory of getting the data from a longitudinal study, but as you said, the paper I cited is no such thing. A quick literature search turned up papers which suggest the opposite of what I originally claimed – that winning the lottery does in fact create small but significant long-term increases in happiness. So even if I find the original paper, it’s clear there’s conflicting evidence.
Again, thank you for pointing this out. It’s likely that I made a mistake. It would be great if I had someone looking over my shoulder to check my work, but for now, this is a one-man labor of love.
Nice article and thoroughly researched. I am grateful to you for the article. Thank you, Amit for the same and here’s wishing that you achieve your potential.
So thorough on the benefits of gratitude. I’m sold on making the gratitude journal because I also heard about in a TED talk before this. With that amount of benefits, I wonder if there are people who dismiss the idea of gratitude because if they do, they are losing out on lots of things.
Thanks for writing this Amit.
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment 🙂
There are plenty of people who dismiss the idea of gratitude. In a survey taken 25 years ago, only 20% of Americans rated gratitude as a constructive and useful emotion. I’m sure the number is better now, but I still know many – especially in the older generation – who think I’m crazy.
Right on! Gratitude changes your heart variability pattern and boosts immune functioning too.
The wisdom traditions are right are wise! Besides thanksgiving which you covered very well, faith, forgiveness, and a merry heart are good for you too. 😉
I’m the author of “From Frazzled to Fantastic! You’re One Thought Away From Feeling Better.” That is true and sometimes we choose a thought that makes us feel worse! Be careful. 😉
Indeed, as your blog suggests, gratitude is a powerful dose of medicine, and without any negative side-effects, too, working far better than focusing on self-esteem, for me at least. I happen to believe in God, but it’s really gratitude directed towards God for all that I am and all my potential, none of which I am entitled to, that I find to be deeply healing of any emotional wound.
I think this healing occurs because gratitude naturally diminishes my covertly egotistical, prideful self to the point where the self isn’t as important as what I can do to express my gratitude. Not only being grateful, but taking it to the next level by doing something positive to express this gratitude. Gratitude in action. This focus away from myself and towards a mission to express gratitude is what makes the past seem significant only for the purposes of learning spiritual lessons.
From being grateful, I’ve learned that it was my covertly egotistical self that caused nearly all of the problems in my own life, because in perhaps 99% of the instances I was not forced to do something and instead I did it to feel good, in other words, to pump up my own ego. Having accepted full responsibility as a result of gratitude not only didn’t make me depressed or lose self-esteem, it actually boosted my energy, because now I realize that I have the capability to fix myself and thus redirect my life in the direction that I want it to go. Ironically, by not focusing on boosting the self and by not caring about my self-esteem, both of which gratitude makes less relevant or even to the point of total irrelevance, I have far more energy, sharper mental clarity, and every positive attribute that you’ve mentioned in this blog.
Gratitude is THE attitude to have. And, I happen to believe in a higher benevolent Being and that I have a mission in life, with that mission being to fix myself in a spiritual way. This combination works to make a very fulfilling life.
Fantastic blog! So detailed and interactive! What fun. I especially loved the diagram at the very beginning.
Thanks Jean 🙂
I loved this article and especially the image that summarizes all the benefits in such a concise way. Thank you for the time and energy you devoted to writing it. I want to share your knowledge because I think it is very valuable. I hope it’s ok that I have included this image in my own article and have given you credit for it’s development. I’ve also provided a link to this article and a recommendation to read it in it’s entirety. Please let me know if this is ok with you.
Hi Patti! I’m glad you found this article useful, and thank you for the recommendation, that’s 100% OK!
Hi Amit, this is a great website with lots of info, thanks! 🙂
Please consider the (even tiny, remote) possibility that God exists and explore it a little… Sorry to be corny – Jesus really loves you & wants you to know Him.
Amit, that’s a wonderfully constructed article! Congrats! And Thanks for sharing the book! You gathered a helluva lot of information from many authentic sources, it seems. It really beats me (I must mention that I am a first-time visitor to your blog) how could you ferret out so much of readable material for a topic of Gratitude! You gave 40-50 hours for one post – that’s something I really wish I could target for someday.
After reading through your post, it seems that whatever we’ve known as human beings – and has been handed over to us by the generations – are now being proven to be true after all. Is this a travel back to our roots, while brandishing scientific documents to make ourselves realize that we haven’t traveled far from where we started, after all…
Go ahead on your path, and go far!
I really appreciate your list. I would like to encourage you to remove this statement, “If you’re a man, don’t worry; gratitude won’t transform you into a woman.” from number six. As a woman, I did not take that as an especially helpful message.
Hi, very informative post. Gratitude is the greatest of all virtues in life. I once read a quote that says “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”. Thanks for sharing a positive post.
Hey man that was a phenomenal read, so simply yet artisticly put! I am an avid student of positive psychology and have started a pay it forward movement we call smile tag to help spread the awesome information this budding field teaches. I’d love to be able to pick your brain on ways to basically do what you’ve just done here 🙂
l am very happy with your teaching, with your teaching on gratitude am able to know and understand the deeper meaning of gratitude. God bless
Hi. This is one of the best life changing readings i came accrosee when i search for gratitude kindness respect and thankfulness. Thanks to you and im sharing this with my family.
I am a psychologist and direct a nonprofit program. This will become a vital part of the program’s work both personally and professionally. Thank you for putting it together so well!
I never knew the Gratitude is so much Powerful. We can make Life Happy with Gratitude
Hi, Amit! I´m Nicole, 14 years old, and I must say – your post just helped someone in the other tip of America! (I´m brazilian, haha ^^).
Omg, I can´t even thank you as much as I want to. This post was a blessing! I was curently in a sad-for-no-reason mood, and reading this definitely changed my mind about how I feel beyond things in life. I feel a lot more grateful now. I even have the disposition to stand up and do some push-ups! Geez. Not so far, I believe.
Thanks a lot for running this blog. You can´t believe how much this helped me, and I bet you also helps people all across the world with your kind posts and funny words. I know you´re not religious, but I will be praying for you. You sure are a good person, sir!
Thanks again! : >
Hi Amit Amin,
I am Ebrahim Shahiwala, reading your blog / twitter . I am really enjoying it.
I am making few products related to Gratitude Journals/boxes etc .
I am writing some contents about Gratitude , benefit of Gratitude etc . I have found
few things very interesting in your blog , for e.g. few write up & your analysis table .
I wish to take few contents from your blog , with your permission . where ever possible
I will give credit to these matters / contents / tables .
I need your permission to do it , PLEASE confirm it , I will be Grateful to you .
Thank You & GOD bless you !
Wow, what an incredible post! And looking at the first comment, what an amazing amount of work you put into it! I hope you have reaped as much benefit from your work as I am sure everyone who has read the post has!
I am a big advocate of gratitude as a way to improve life, having seen countless benefits of it in my own life. Thank you so much for this post, it has been really helpful and I am sure I will come back to it.
Would you be taken with exchanging links? cbdefkbcdega
Yes, research takes hours and hours, sometimes. But this is the way I write my articles. I cannot do it any other way because then everything just becomes opinions and opinions are not always correct. That’s why reading and reading is not a luxury, it’s a necessary part of a writer’s vocation.
I can appreciate an article with thoroughness, as nothing is left unanswered and questionable.
Giving the public researched and thorough work is being true to your profession. It’s not that we cannot have opinions or theories, but it’s always good to back them up, so that your readers have honest information to their problems and issues.
Thank you so much,
I am grateful for good writing!:)
This is great Amin. I really appreciate all that you put together here. We do a lot of work at helping people release pain, both physical and emotional. Gratitude is unquestionably a big ingredient in both releasing pain and allowing it not to return.
Very well written and insightful, Amit! I greatly appreciate the scientific research and scholarly references to support your claims. The only thing I wanted to mention is your experiences spiritually when you meditate on being grateful. I didn’t experience gratitude myself, in it’s true form, until I had strong spiritual experiences/encounters that really opened my mind and heart. I would suggest you allow yourself to lean a little more into faith when you hear it calling instead of pushing that away. You will be grateful that you did. 🙂
Wow so the apostle Paul had it right, “give thanks at all times in all things” and “be anxious for nothing but let your petitions and supplications be made with thanksgiving”
I loved your blog Amit. Thank you for the excellent research and for the transparency throughout your work. I am a pastor who is preaching about gratitude tomorrow. I’m not sure if you are aware that one of the Psalms says, “enter His gates with thanksgiving in your hearts.” I’ve personally experienced that gratitude is the first step into relationship with God. Often the first prayer – I felt the prayer of gratitude welling up in you. It’s a valid prayer even for the irreligious or the seekers, always heard by God. “Whoever you are who made this world and blessed me, thank you.” Sometimes I welcome people to pray what I call the agnostic’s prayer, “Jesus – if it’s really you who made this world and loves me, then – I do want to say thank you and get to know you better.”
I love your heart Amit – I’d love to chat, but you have a lot of fans, so no worries if you are too busy. God bless you and again, thank you. (btw – a great website for people working through questions as it regards God and science is Reasons.org)
Mr. Amin, I really agree with your bold statement that gratitude increases one’s productivity. I think this information might change my life. By striving to be grateful I will accomplish great things.
As a teacher, we help each other out by having two buddies at least to share our daily list of 5 good things. I will have to move to trying to write down before bed and see if it can help me sleep. Had not made that connection.
I’m not religious either, more spiritual actually and I was about to do research on this subject but you’ve done such a great job that I would love to share your link on my LinkedIn page and give you All the credit!
Thanks for sharing and being so generous, it helped me exercise gratitude!
Amit–thank you for such a wonderful blog on Graditude. I truly feel this is what I need for my life, but also for others for their lives. With people in such a hurry everyday I sometimes wonder if any one of these people take the time to reflect on themselves as well to others. I am going through some financial challenges as a result of scams and frauds, has led me to shame and embarrassment. But despite the issue, I find that Gadutude helps me each day, especially most of your 31 items regarding Graditude. I may share this with my Toastmasters club as a table topics and a men’s group that I belong to. I appreciate your blog and will cherish what you have shared.
Thank you! Jeff
I really liked the gratitude vs wining the lottery graph you have here so I wanted to make sure that it is supported but the papers you cite. As it turns out, in the Brickman et al., paper, the authors did not measure the happiness of lottery winners in a longitudinal manner (right before and after winning the lottery and 6 months later).
Great post Amit! You did spend a lot of time researching! Your post was the first that came up when I started to research my next blog post. Love that you’ve dedicated so much time to gratitude. Thank you!
This is my personal experience with gratitude and how it has served me throughout my life. No longer a prisoner of my childhood…The first thing I experienced is that I could breathe, really breathe! Once I started breathing I couldn’t stop. It was similar to someone who has panic attacks. Until this unexpectedly happened I didn’t even realize I had been holding my breath. I had been holding my breath my entire life. This was so intense I wrote a book about it titled: GUIDED by Linda Deir, winner of the 2017 Body-Mind-Spirit Int’l Book Award. Available on Amazon.
I would like to see an attitude of gratitude when I go out of my way for someone.
Is that expecting too much
Thanks for your great article, which I’ve found helpful among a plethora of others as I do some introductory research into thankfulness for my new website.
It’s hard to choose which benefit excites me the most. I’ve been intentionally practising thankfulness for over 8 years. Possibly the benefits for physical health surprise and excite me the most.
I’m not sure when this article was written, so I’m not sure how long it is since you’ve researched gratitude. However, I’m interested in following up the references indicated in the text, which I can’t seem to find a way to follow. Could you please let me know how I can have access to these?
I am so grateful for this blog! It has shown me what is important in life! Material things and money are not as important as having positive people and family in your life! To care about others and show appreciation to them. Taking care of the ill and lost individuals that need it. Also to look after our planet and be wiser about what I do to make it heal and healthier! Thank you so much for sharing Remember to smile as ever Mary Klimiuk
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website.
I’m hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts
from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing
abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now 😉
I love this! Thank you very much for sharing. Practicing gratitude every morning has changed my life. I get energized to start my day by practicing enthusiasm. It’s amazing how thoughts of gratitude and thoughts of discontent cannot simultaneously exist in your mind. I challenge everyone reading this to take this message to heart! Practice gratitude and you’ll reap the benefits!!
Wonderful article, which I used as part of my speech on gratitude at our church Ladies Thanksgiving Connect last night. I was wondering if you can please give me more info on the references (m1 and m2) in regards to our memories (#19 on the list). … I can’t seem to locate the research online. Thank you!
Just found the references tab … my apologies. Thanks again for all of the time and effort you put into this!
Thanks, I’ve just been searching for information approximately this subject for a while
and yours is the best I’ve found out so far.
However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you certain concerning the
Amit, I appreciated your blog very much. There are several excellent observations here about gratitude. Forgive me for commenting again on something which others have already reflected on. You mentioned, very transparently, that “those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. My solution has been to re-direct my feelings towards Lady Luck.” I respect your desire to remain steadfast in your agnosticism, but I would also suggest that it is reasonable to be skeptical also of agnosticism. Lady Luck, as you well know, never intended to give you a gift for which you should express gratitude. Lady Luck is both blind and amoral. I marvel at how all of us, whether we ascribe to a benevolent God or not, live our lives as though they were infused with purpose and meaning. Many have discovered that when we lean into this sense of transcendent purpose, we become more fully human. Purpose and meaning is the oxygen of the human spirit. To deny it is to deny our own ultimate value. It’s like reasoning that there is no reason behind all of this, which appears to me to be a contradiction. “There is no absolute truth,” I’ve heard some argue, but then they always make one exception for “the truth that there is no absolute truth.” You believe in gratitude, and you feel that you’ve been given a gift. Perhaps your soul is simply responding to the Giver, which was intended all along. Grace and peace to you!
I think that it’s interesting that “those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God” Perhaps there is a benevolent God that’s reaching out to you. Why is it that you would deny that, and embrace “lady luck”? Lady Luck, it seems to me, is capricious at best. In doing that, even though you mention increased spirituality as a benefit to life, you’re denying that benefit in your own life, unless you consider “Lady Luck” to be a spirit. Expressing gratitude to “Lady Luck” that has neither personality or concern for you, which are attributes of a “benevolent” God, seems like being grateful just for gratitude’s sake. Are you saying that just generating the feelings of gratitude are enough? Is it really gratitude if it’s not directed at someone to whom gratitude can be given? I’m really curious as to your line of thought here.
“Are you saying that just generating the feelings of gratitude are enough?” I do think that expressing those feelings is important.
When I’m grateful to lady luck, that tends to translate into my being kinder to the rest of the world. I’m grateful that I had the good fortune that others did not, and as a result I want to give them something. So it can be directed to someone.
Why not God? Because I’m agnostic.
Health. It is the most important thing in life to be greatful for. When you are greatful for something, you will never lose it. It will just keep getting better and better.