Oct 12

10 Ways Thankfulness Can Actually Change Your Life

As Thanksgiving is upon us we can take the time to reflect on the things we are thankful for in our lives. Not only is this a holiday about gratitude, it is also an opportunity to make a significant difference in the quality of our lives and the lives of others. To be on the receiving end of gratitude is a pleasure and it can provide us with warm feelings of appreciation. However, the actual experience of being grateful lends itself to a wide array of benefits that are not only social in nature but psychological and physical as well. There is a growing body of scientific evidence on the benefits of gratitude. Among the researchers that have made substantial contributions to the study of gratitude are Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough. Have a look below at why being grateful can improve the quality of your life and the life of those around you.


Being more grateful can:

1. Increase the  amount and intensity of positive emotions including happiness, optimism, and joy

2. Increase buffering from, and decrease of overall levels of, negative emotions and stress

3. Increase one’s sense of self-worth

4. Improve immune system functioning

5. Improve quality of sleep

6. Lower blood pressure

7. Lead to an increase in exercise

8. Increase feelings of social connectedness and reduced feelings of isolation

9. Improve social relationships

10. Increase one’s capacity for generosity, compassion, and forgiveness

This is not an exhaustive list of the benefits of gratitude but you can find out more by clicking on the links above and below.


How can you access the benefits of gratitude in your daily life?

There are a number of different ways suggested by these and other researchers including:

1. Keeping a daily or weekly gratitude journal

2. Writing a gratitude letter to someone

3. Scheduling a regular time to mentally reflect on the things that make you grateful

4. Prayer or meditation that focuses on gratitude


Other Resources:

For more ideas, have a look at Dr. Emmons 10 Ways to Become More Grateful.

For short videos on Dr. Emmons research findings check out Berkeley’s website: Greater Good, The Science of a Meaningful Life.

For families that would like to leave their children with the legacy of gratitude, have a look at Dr. Christine Carter’s short video on ideas for teaching gratitude skills to children.