17 Benefits of Thankfulness and Gratitude

Thankfulness and Gratitude

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. That usually means overindulging in food, football, and family. It’s also a time to increase our gratitude for the many blessings we have.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero

 

For years, I have studied the benefits of an attitude of gratitude. I’m amazed at study after study that demonstrates its incredible power. Gratitude helps us:

  • Reduce depression
  • Get promotions at work
  • Improve our self esteem
  • Increase our energy
  • Develop a strong immune system
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increase sleep quality
  • Reduce and cope with negative stress
  • Eat healthier
  • Have deeper friendships
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve job performance
  • Become more likable
  • Reach goals faster
  • Increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing
  • Reduce negative emotions such as envy, hatred, and anger
  • Increase positive emotions such as love and empathy

There are many ways to increase gratitude in our lives. One of the best ways is to start a gratitude journal.

But, let’s face it: many of us won’t commit to doing that. So, let’s make this simple. Let’s improve our spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude right now, whatever we are doing, wherever we are, even if we are not celebrating Thanksgiving.

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3 Steps to Boost Thanksgiving

Leading Women: Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life

Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life

Do women face a unique relationship with power?

Do successful women pay a “popularity penalty”?

How do women unlock their personal power?

Nancy D. O’Reilly, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and an expert in empowering women. She is the founder of Women Connect4Good, Inc., and for seven years she has interviewed influential women for online podcasts available on her website. Her new book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life is aimed at helping women maximize personal power and improve their self-esteem and business success.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with her about her research and findings about women’s leadership, influence, and power.

 

“I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.” –Helen Keller

 

Now Is the Time

Despite some of the statistics you cite about income and other inequalities, you have a strong optimism about “now” as a wonderful time for women. Why the optimism?

I’ve been working for women empowerment all of my professional life. When I went back to college, and then during my doctoral research, very few people were talking about women empowerment. I felt very lonely.

Now, everywhere I look, people are talking about empowering women: self-help books, networking and mentoring groups, even the media. And why not? Women buy 85% of goods and services; it’s time for our voices to be heard. And as women are getting better at working together, I see a movement in which we claim our power and help one another create a better world.

 

“When we do things even though we are afraid, we grow.” -@DrNancyOReilly

 

“Successful women pay a popularity penalty.” Would you explain that a bit more? What should a successful woman do?

When a woman is successful, she risks denigration by her competitors, the media and other women and men. Studies show the more successful a woman is, the less “likeable” she is perceived to be. Look at a Hillary Clinton, when she was the most popular woman in the world and running for president, she had to deal with comments about her dress, her hair, how old she looked. It constantly undermined her credibility. Lois Phillips, one of my Leading Women co-authors, describes how women can build their credibility at the beginning of a speech, which men rarely have to do. Their credibility is assumed just because they are at the podium.

 

“One woman can change anything; many women can change everything.” –Christine Karumba

 

Think About the Next 15 Minutes

How to Live a Life of Thankfulness

A Way of Life

Thankfulness, gratitude, and gratefulness:  three words to describe a characteristic, a personality trait, and a way of living.

People who live with an attitude of gratitude are known to live longer, sleep better, and have increased productivity and happier lives.

For much of my life, I would have told you that people are thankful when they are happy, things are going well, and life is good.

But then I met people who seemingly unraveled a mystery:

  • The elderly woman in a nursing home who was in a great deal of pain. But you wouldn’t know it.  She couldn’t stop smiling and thanking me for the visit.
  • The middle-aged man who recently lost his job, his home and his family. Instead of bitterness, he was focused on thanking the people who offered him food and a place to stay.
  • The up-and-coming leader I hired who thanked me again and again for the job. Instead of an egotistical response, knowing his qualifications, he must have thanked me a dozen times for the opportunity.

As we think about gratitude, I think of the spirit inside these people.  I realized that I could not predict someone’s attitude based on circumstances.  I would meet someone who was wealthy beyond belief, but that person was miserable.  Someone else would win a major award and shrug off compliments, grumbling that it was not good enough.

Did thankfulness allow the woman to live longer?

Did the middle-aged man end up more successful based on his attitude?

Did the up-and-coming leader create success in his life because of his thankfulness?

Does gratitude help fuel success?  My opinion is that it does.  It seems to play a major role in happiness, health, and prosperity.  The order is more often gratitude first, then success and not success first, then gratitude.

 

“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas and goals.” -Skip Prichard

 

Here are a few tips I have learned from those who are truly grateful.  These people are thankful:

 

Always.

That means in the morning and during bad weather.  It seems that losing our health makes us more grateful if we get it back.  Losing money makes us thankful for a small savings account.  The death of a family member causes us to savor the sweetness of the surviving members.

“In everything, give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

With small things.

It’s not the major accomplishments; it’s the smallest, almost unnoticeable daily events.  It’s being thankful for the smell of a flower or when your football team wins a point.

5 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

If there was a drug with no negative side effects that helped you eat healthier, exercise more, experience less depression, and sleep better, how long would it last in the pharmacy?  We would flock to doctors for prescriptions.  The pharmaceutical company would have a hit.

It may not be a drug, but gratitude may be as important to your health as nutrition.   Let’s look at some of the benefits.  People described as thankful tend to:

  •             Eat healthier
  •             Develop stronger immune systems
  •             Experience more energy
  •             Demonstrate optimism and mental acuity
  •             Cope with stress better
  •             Describe life with high satisfaction
  •             Exercise regularly
  •             Solve difficult mental challenges easier
  •             Have deeper friendships
  •             Sleep better
  •             Have increased self-worth and self-esteem
  •             Show increased productivity
  •             Enjoy work and perform better on the job

There’s no happier person than a truly thankful, content person. -Joyce Meyer

Successful people practice gratitude.  After all, I don’t see how you can be called successful if you aren’t happy and thankful for all life has to offer.

Here are five ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”:

1.  Write it down.

Keep a gratitude journal.  Try it for 30 days.  Be specific about what you are thankful for.  Watch how your thoughts develop over time.  You may start out simply, but when you add stories and color, it becomes more powerful.

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. -Dalai Lama

2.  Talk about it.

Sharing what you are thankful for isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Make it a habit to talk about what you are grateful for all year long.  It will reinforce your feelings.