Part 1: Why is Gratitude Important?

The season of “Thanks Giving” seems like a good time to jump-start your gratitude practice for the year. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on being grateful when life (we’re looking at you, 2020!) is landing its share of blows. This post is the beginning of a four-part series that will explore:

In a break from our usual schedule, we will publish these four blog posts all at once. Happy Thanksgiving!

Why is Gratitude Important?

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Even if you are feeling less grateful than you would like right now, here are some reasons to persevere:

Gratitude has social benefits.

  • Saying thank you to a person increases the chances you’ll become friends (Emotion, 2014)
  • Grateful people experience more empathy and fewer aggressive tendencies. (University of Kentucky, 2014) They tend to be more empathic, forgiving, helpful, and supportive. (McCullough et al., 2002)
  • Increased gratitude reduces the tendency to make social comparisons, which increases self-esteem, decreases jealousy, and helps athletes perform better! (Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2014)
  • “Gratitude rewards generosity and maintains the cycle of healthy social behavior”—Antonia Damasia, Director, BCI & Dornsife Neuroimaging Institute, psychology, and neurology professor
  • Gratitude increases feelings of security and connectedness and fosters resilience during life transitions. (Clinical Psychology Review, 2010)

Gratitude is good for your body.

  • Grateful people live longer, have more robust immune systems, more energy, lower blood pressure, do better after surgery, and enjoy a better overall sense of wellbeing. (Happier Human, 2018)
  • People who are grateful feel like their health is better, and they take better care of their bodies. (Personality and Individual Differences, 2012)
  • People who keep a nighttime gratitude journal sleep better. (Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2011)

Gratitude is good for your mind.

  • Gratefulness increases happiness and reduces depression. 
  • Feeling gratitude means we can recognize goodness outside of ourselves, repeatedly demonstrating that other people and God provide many gifts and bring goodness into our lives. (Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., leading scientific expert on gratitude)
  • Gratitude can help people overcome significant trauma and PTSD (2006, Behaviour Research and Therapy)
  • Gratitude increases resilience, a critical skill to overcome difficult times. (2003, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)
  • Gratitude decreases neuroticism and is an essential ingredient for psychological wellbeing overall. Grateful people have more capacity for joy and other positive feelings, and they can hold on to the positive feelings for longer. (Clinical Psychology Review, 2010)
  • Grateful people have more capacity for joy and other positive emotions.
  • With consistency, gratitude tunes the brain to notice things to be grateful for, making that way of thinking more accessible to us and effectively shifting our negativity bias toward a more accurate way of thinking. (Positive Psychology, 2020)

To dig a little deeper on why gratitude is important, consider

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