You might think that gratitude is not something that has to be learned and that you are already grateful for a lot of the things in your life, but most people experience gratitude fleetingly and do not incorporate it into their daily lives. In fact, in my opinion, practicing gratitude may be one of the most overlooked self-development tools that we all have access to every day.
Cultivating gratitude does not cost any money and it certainly does not take much time, but research shows that its benefits are numerous and wide-ranging. For example, practicing gratitude can:
Improve your Outlook: Journaling for five minutes a day about what we are grateful for can enhance our long-term happiness. Feeling grateful every day can help to keep toxic emotions like envy and jealousy at bay. Research has also shown that gratitude reduces envy, facilitates positive emotions, and makes us more resilient (Stoerkel, 2021). Noticing and appreciating what we already have can make us feel more positive about our lives and boost our outlook on life in general.
Improve your Psychological Well-Being:
Participants who completed a four-week gratitude contemplation program reported greater life satisfaction and self-esteem than control group participants (Rash, Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011). Gratitude can help you feel better about your circumstances, which can lead to you feeling better about yourself.
Improve relationships/friendships: Expressing gratitude to your significant other can improve the quality of your relationship (Rash et al., 2011). This is also the case for other types of relationships, such as friendships and professional relationships. People appreciate receiving gratitude, and I have found that expressing your gratitude to someone will make them more inclined to work with you through the ups and downs of your relationship.
Reduce Materialism: Naturally, when you are grateful for the things that you have, you will have less of a desire to buy material things (Rash et al., 2011). You may also feel more inclined to expand your generosity and share your time, energy, or wealth with others. I have experienced this myself - since I started incorporating gratitude practices into my daily routine, I have found that I am much more appreciative of what I have and that I share my blessings with others more often.
These are just some of the many possible benefits of practicing gratitude - there are many more, including:
Helping us find meaning in our work
Making us better leaders
Improving our overall physical health
Improving the quality and quantity of our sleep
Facilitating the recovery of people who have undergone trauma or suffered from depression
Rash, J. A., Matsuba, M. K., & Prkachin, K. M. (2011). Gratitude and well-being: Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention?. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(3), 350-369. doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01058.x