#MUNIonThis: Are there any physical benefits to giving thanks?
I begin my day, everyday, with gratitude. I give gratitude for waking up, breathing, and being alive; for every chance, memory, and experience that has come before that moment, and for a lifetime of events that are still about to occur.
Being in gratitude daily has allowed me to be a better son, brother, and friend, as well as clinician, speaker, and businessman. In short, giving gratitude makes me a happier, healthier, and smiley-er person. [Read: The Gratitude Experiment]
Upon waking, I put on my earphones and take 5-10 minutes to meditate, making sure to remember three things I am grateful for. Then, as I proceed with the rest of the day, I make sure to keep a smile on my face, and articulate my inner gratitude by always saying “Thank you!” to those who give you their time, effort, and love. These need not be people you know. The idea is that positivity, love, and kindness will create a chain reaction, allowing for more smiles and better days.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Exercising gratitude has many psychological and physical benefits. It’s been shown to be good for health, relationships, and even business. It’s been beneficial for me personally, despite my mother thinking I’ve turned into a complete hippie.
Fortunately, science has shown that even a single act of gratitude produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms (Seligman et al, 2005). It has been seen to promote more energy, higher emotional intelligence, more forgiving attitudes, less anxiousness, more feelings of being socially connected, better sleep, and fewer headaches.
I truly believe that exercising gratitude, along with a healthy does of laughter, are the key reasons why my father has been blessed with such good health. So, encourage an attitude of gratitude by writing down at least one thing you are grateful for at the end of the day. You can punch it into your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or write it down in a little notepad or journal.
Gratitude in the Workplace
A recent collaborative study done by psychologists at University of Pennsylvania and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that a healthy dose of gratitude in the workplace leads to increased sense of self worth and confidence, as well as a greater sense of camaraderie and trust between colleagues (Grant and Gino, 2010).
So don’t be afraid to acknowledge a colleague for a job well done, a case closed, or a task completed (even if it is ever so small). You might even find that this will put a smile on their faces, lighten your heart, and make your place of work a good place to be.
The effect of gratitude on love and relationships is just as positive. Research shows that couples who practice gratitude together in their daily lives experienced increased relationship satisfaction, responsiveness to needs, and a more positive relationship quality overall for over 6 months (Algoe et al, 2013). Grateful gestures need not be grand, dramatic, or worthy of an Instagram post. A simple “I am thankful for you” goes a very long way.
Not just for the big kids
Kids, of course, can understand and practice gratitude starting at a very young age. Teaching children to practice gratitude has shown to make kids feel more connected with their classmates, satisfied with their lives, and increase their optimism and positive emotions (Bono, 2012). Furthermore, a study by Psychologist Jeffrey Roch found that 8-11 year olds who were more grateful were more likely to have better grades, interest in academics and extra-curricular activities, and displayed lower risky behaviors.
With all these benefits noted in different areas of life, backed by science, consider adding gratitude to your daily life, sharing it with others, and see the possibilities.