With the holiday season upon us, we have been thinking a lot about gratitude. Gratitude can be extremely powerful in increasing happiness and can lead to greater success in business. But what exactly is it? How can we reap the benefits? Read on to find out.
What is gratitude?
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” - Melody Beattie
Gratitude is unique; it is a personality trait, a mood, and an emotion all in one. Robert Emmons, explains that gratitude has two key components: “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” Second, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves…We acknowledge that other people...gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Gratitude has its origins as a distinct emotion. Usually, the feeling lasts for only a few seconds, as a recognition of the intentional, beneficial actions of others. Gratitude can also be measured by four factors: intensity, frequency, span, and density. People who are more agreeable, spiritual, and conscientious tend to show more gratitude. On the other hand, materialism is very closely tied with a decline in gratitude.
What are the benefits of gratitude?
Now that we have a handle on what gratitude is, let’s talk about some of the benefits of gratitude because they are plentiful.
1. Better sleep
Several studies have found that gratitude increases sleep quality and decreases the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.
2. Lower stress levels
Studies have been done in which subjects were encouraged to show more gratitude and results showed lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure, which are key indicators of stress level.
3. Reduced anxiety and depression
Numerous studies have been done on patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety and when they kept gratitude journals or regularly wrote thank you letters they experienced a significant decrease in symptoms.
4. Increased energy
As a chain reaction of many of the other benefits of gratitude study participants also reported feeling more energized, this can do great things for your productivity!
5. More relationships
Others are more drawn to people who show gratitude, in addition it is easier to form and maintain positive relationships when you are feeling happier and less stressed.
6. Better self-esteem
Gratitude has been shown to reduce social comparison, thus increasing self-esteem. This can lead to more success at work and in your personal life.
7. More optimism
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 this about our future. Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are more likely to focus on the good than on the bad.
8. Less materialism
While many think the pursuit of wealth is the most motivating thing in the world, it can actually be holding you back. It rarely causes long-term increases in happiness and life satisfaction, and can cause you to sacrifice the more rewarding aspects of life. Focusing on gratitude emphasizes the important parts of life beyond just “things”, which can boost happiness.
9. Career benefits
When you feel better, you work better and all of these benefits can be applied to more productivity and success in your career. For example, networking just got easier and more successful because you will be more confident and open to maintaining relationships.
How can I show gratitude?
We know gratitude sounds really awesome, but wait how can you enact it? For so many great benefits it must be really difficult right? Wrong! Here are a few easy ways to show more gratitude in your daily life.
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Find a journal, whether physical or online, and make a habit of writing in it everyday. To start, just focus on listing things you are grateful for. Later on, you can find prompts online that will challenge you to find gratitude in different aspects of your life. The key to success with this method is consistency.
2. Write thank you letters
Slowing down to write a handwritten thank you note is a great way to show gratitude to those you care for and as handwritten correspondence becomes less and less common it will feel even more special to the recipient. In addition, writing things by hand can help you connect with them more.
3. Also, verbalize your thanks
In addition to writing letters, make an effort to say thank you to those in your life when you see them. For example, a verbal thank you to a coworker will come across as more meaningful than an email.
4. Give back
After you have begun to identify things you are grateful for, you can also act on them by giving back through volunteer work. For example, maybe you are grateful to live in a very supportive community and decide to spend a few hours volunteering at a local food pantry. This is a great way to tie gratitude to a lasting social impact.
5. Don’t wait for the “big ones”
Gratitude doesn’t only have to follow grand gestures of kindness, work on also being grateful for little things in everyday life. This will have a much greater impact than waiting for only the biggest, best things to happen.
6. Practice mindfulness
Find time each day to sit down, close your eyes, and think of several things you are grateful for. Visualize each thing and sit quietly with the feeling of gratitude. Doing this regularly will help retrain your brain to be more grateful, thus boosting your happiness.
7. Find gratitude in difficult times
It is easy to be grateful when everything is going well, in those times you have a lot to be thankful for. It is more challenging to find gratitude when things are going poorly, but this is when doing so can be even more important because it can help improve your outlook and turn things around.
8. Focus on happiness
As we have discussed, if you find gratitude, happiness will follow, but this can also happen in reverse. If you are having a hard time identifying things to be grateful for, switch to focusing on being happier and gratitude will often follow.
We hope you are ready to start showing more gratitude and to reap the benefits! What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Let us know on Twitter, @kuviocreative.
Gratitude have you feeling more productive? Have you realized that your website is holding your business back? Contact us! We would be happy to discuss solutions.