Do you regularly express gratitude? I’ve seen some pretty amazing examples of this simple practice in some of the organizations where I consult and coach. And you know what? The people who have an attitude of gratitude seem to be more effective at their jobs as well as in their social lives.
It turns out that an “attitude of gratitude” is not only wise for building positive relationships, but good for health.
“If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system,” Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, expert in brain and mind health.
There are more reasons than you think for expressing gratitude. Beside the positive effects at work, gratitude brings about an increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.
Studies have shown that gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:
- Mood neurotransmitters
- Reproductive hormones
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure and cardiac rhythms
- Stress hormones
- Inflammatory and immune systems
- Cognitive neurotransmitters
If you take your wellbeing seriously, you may want to increase the frequency at which you feel and express gratitude.
The Scientific Study of Gratitude
Traditionally, psychologists have focused on understanding distress rather than positive emotions. However, with the current focus on Positive Psychology, scientists are now looking at gratitude to understand the experience of the emotion, individual differences in frequency, and the relationship between these two aspects.
Researchers have looked at the obstacles to gratitude and found self-absorption and entitlement as impediments.
When you are preoccupied with yourself, it is easy to forget your benefits and benefactors.
With an attitude of “I deserve this,” or “you owe me,” or “life owes me,” grievances will always outnumber blessings.
According to Mark T. Mitchell, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College in Virginia:
Gratitude is born of humility, for it acknowledges the giftedness of the creation and the benevolence of a Creator. This recognition gives birth to acts marked by attention and responsibility. Ingratitude, on the other hand, is marked by hubris, which denies the gift, and this always leads to inattention, irresponsibility, and abuse.
Even without a spiritual practice, however, the power of gratitude is accessible to all. Given the important link to health and wellbeing, it makes sense to increase our experience of feeling grateful.