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It's Official: Being Thankful Is Good For You
When grateful pilgrims unknowingly launched our national holiday by giving thanks, they probably didn’t know they were also improving their own health in the process. At this year’s gathering commemorating our heritage of gratitude, here are some of ways that research shows we can all benefit from a thankful mindset.
Focusing on gratitude over irritations is paired with a healthier mindset and body. Studies show that writing down what they were grateful for each week, rather than what aggravated them, left people feeling better about their lives, exercising more and having fewer visits to the doctor’s office.
Saying “thank you” makes us happy. Research participants who wrote and personally delivered letters they wrote to someone in their lives they had never properly thanked before showed a huge increase in happiness scores, an impact that lasted weeks and was greater than from any other intervention in the study.
Gratitude improves physical health. Research shows that people who are grateful experience fewer aches and pains, report feeling healthier and are more likely to take care of their health – which is likely to contribute to greater longevity.
Thanking your romantic partner improves the relationship. Studies that explored how gratitude affects couples found that those who took the time to thank the other person also felt more comfortable with expressing their concerns to their partners.
Workers are more motivated when thanked. Research shows that managers who remember to say “thank you” to their employees improve employee work performance.
We sleep better when we’re grateful. Spending just 15 minutes before going to bed writing down what we’re thankful for can lead to better, longer, more restful sleep.
Gratitude is best for your health when you mean it. One study of divorcees who kept gratitude journals found they were no more satisfied with their lives than those who did not, which along with other research of children and teens suggests that gratitude is attained when associated with emotional maturity.
That being said, it isn’t always easy to find ways to be thankful. When it comes down to it, gratitude is a decision: a state of mind we cultivate because we find meaning in doing so. This Thanksgiving Day, as you remember what blessings and bounty life has given you, let that mindset stretch into the coming weeks and months ahead. You’ll thank yourself for it.