During the holidays, emotions can swing from happiness to depression, especially when you encounter difficult people and situations.
New studies have shown that there is a way to even out your mood and improve your happiness by adopting an attitude of gratitude.
Spend just a few minutes each week practicing gratitude and watch it transform your life in these five ways:
1. Gratitude Will Increase Your Happiness
In his 2007 book entitled “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” Dr. Robert Emmons writes about his surprising findings that research participants who practiced gratitude where happier than those who contemplated negative events or just general events over a week-long period.
His research found that participants who practiced writing down as few as five events from the past week for which they were grateful were an astounding 25% happier than the other control groups over a 10-week long study. These grateful individuals were more optimistic about their future and felt better about their lives.
2. Gratitude Can Lead To Better Health
While there are few studies available that link gratitude to better health, research has shown that people who practice gratitude tend to exercise more, have lower levels of stress, and sleep better.
In the above-mentioned study, participants who practiced gratitude for just a few minutes weekly tended to exercise 1.5 hours more than those in the control group or the negative thoughts group.
Additionally, in a separate study involving patients with debilitating neuro-muscular disorders, those who practiced gratitude were found to be more satisfied with their lives overall, more optimistic about the future, and were sleeping better (good sleep being an important indicator of overall well-being).
3. Gratitude Will Make You Less Prone To Materialism
People who practice gratitude are appreciative of what they currently have and are generally more satisfied with their lives. They are less inclined to go and purchase the latest and greatest product or service.
A study at Baylor University found that if you focus on what you want (that which you do not currently have), it makes it much more difficult to appreciate what you already have.
Another study at a private university found that the more materialistic people were, the less gratitude they felt. The less gratitude they felt, the less satisfied they were with their lives. Materialistic people were shown to have higher levels of depression, too.
4. Gratitude Helps You Practice Restraint and Self-Control
The feeling of gratitude can help you resist temptation.
A new study published in the journal Psychological Science finds that emotions can be harnessed to rein in desire. 75 individuals were given classic tests of financial self-control. These individuals could either have $54 immediately or $80 in 30 days.
Before they were allowed to make a decision, the participants were put into one of three emotional states: grateful, happy, or neutral.
The results showed that people who were either in a happy or neutral state preferred having less money but getting it now. However, the people expressing gratitude showed much more restraint and were willing to wait fro the $80.
Practicing gratitude can save you money in the long run.
5. Gratitude Helps Improve Your Relationships
Gratitude has the power to deepen our emotional connections with others.
Recent research by Dr. Sara Algoe and her colleagues found that being grateful to your partner for all the little kindnesses they do can make all the difference in a relationship.
Additionally, gratitude has been linked to numerous positive social outcomes. People who are grateful report better relationships with their peers and greater satisfaction overall in all of their relationships.