Thanksgiving is the time of year to reflect on life's virtues, and pause for to give thanks for all that you have. While there is definitely an argument that we as a society should be more thankful just for the sake of graciousness, it turns out there might also be beneficial health implications of having a more gratuitous attitude.
Positive Psychology Program has collated a list of benefits that gratitude brings to our lives, and they have been split into five separate groups:
- Emotional benefits
- Social benefits
- Personality benefits
- Career benefits
- Health benefits
While an argument could be made that the emotional and health benefits could perhaps be amalgamated, the article nonetheless provides a detailed and well sourced range of reasons why we should embrace gratitude. What is particularly great about the article is that it appears to be supported by scientific research, citing numerous studies and papers that have - I believe - been published in peer reviewed journals.
Some of the benefits are obvious, for example making us happier, or increasing our self-esteem, but apparently gratitude is a "protective factor when it comes to suicidal ideation" (Krysinska, Lester, Lyke, & Corveleyn, 2015). Indeed, a number of benefits circle around combatting mental health issues, such as improving optimism, reducing depressive symptoms, helping people recover from substance misuse and generally increasing our psychological well-being.
In addition to listing out 28 benefits of a more gratuitous attitude, Positive Psychology Program also makes the effort to precis what it believes to be the most important gratitude research articles. These include "Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life" (Emmons and McCullough, 2003) and "Gratitude and prosocial behavior: helping when it costs you" (Bartlett and DeSteno, 2006).
It is a really interesting read, and perhaps as we move into some of the more commercialised periods of the year we could all work on having a more thankful mindset - it's good for your health!
Source: Positive Psychology Program