Our lives are often plagued with third world problems:
Why didn’t my boss give me the raise he promised me?
How come I got a B in that class instead of an A?
Why can’t I marry Selena Gomez?
We spend so much time complaining about what we don’t have. We wish we could look better, be in a perfect relationship, or make more money when in reality most of us already have more than we’ll ever need.
What if we focused our energy on the wonderful things we already have in like our families, friends, and talents? Would our lives improve?
Actually, gratitude has been proven to enhance our lives emotionally, socially, and even physically. Here are a few of the proven benefits of being grateful:
1) Makes you Happy & Optimistic
It doesn’t take a scientist to know that being grateful will make you happier. When we focus on what we have rather than what we lack, we are going to be more appreciative and happy.
Grateful people are often more optimistic as well. Think about it.
Let’s say there’s a man named Joe. Joe owned a coffee shop but it was recently closed down because he wasn’t getting enough customers. Joe has two choices: he can fall into depression and complain about how his dream of owning a coffee shop has been crushed, or he can focus on the things he hasn’t lost.
He still has a wife that loves him and children that are close to him. He has friends and family members that have consistently supported his business and have already shown sympathy towards Joe now that the shop has closed down.
Another thing Joe can focus on is how the failure of his coffee shop could actually turn into a lesson for success in the future. Now that Joe knows why his last business fell apart, he may have some necessary insight on how he can make his next business venture better.
Although it may sound crazy, failure is actually something worth being grateful for. Failure teaches us things that success never will. Failure teaches us how to face adversity and improve ourselves.
2) Makes you Fun to be Around
We all know how it feels to spend time with a complainer. Some people will just find something to criticize. They’ll find some excuse to feel miserable. These types of people are often aren’t happy with themselves and lack appreciation for even their greatest blessings.
On the other hand, we all know people that seem to appreciate everything we do for them. They are genuine, polite, and full of joy. Grateful people are almost always enjoyable to be around. It is easier for them to be flexible and to deal with complicated situations.
When we learn to be grateful, we will draw other people towards us because of our positive attitude.
3) Reduces Toxic Emotions
After we experience a hardship or make a mistake, we are often flooded with toxic emotions such as shame, stress, or anger. Gratitude often counteracts these negative emotions.
For example, let’s say you are an aspiring musician that lives in Nashville. During your last show you made several mistakes, were booed, and people even threw tomatoes at you. Afterwards you are filled with feelings of shame and embarrassment. You feel like giving up on your dream and going back to your job as a cashier at a fast food place.
Rather than sinking into shame and guilt, you can decide to focus on things you are grateful for, such as your supportive family and friends and the wonderful talent you have been given. You can also be grateful for the lessons you have learned through this experience and use it as motivation to improve your craft.
I often struggle with feelings of shame. When I am feeling low, I often call back positive memories when I have felt loved and appreciated. This might be something big like my high school graduation, or something that seems insignificant like when someone extended a small act of kindness to me. When I pursue gratitude, my feelings of shame begin to subside.
Gratitude can serve as a sort of antidote for toxic emotions.
4) Improves Physical and Mental Health
According to an article on psychologytoday.com, gratitude can actually improve both your physical and mental health. People who constantly experience gratitude are less likely to have aches and pains. Grateful people have also been reported to have better sleeping habits.
The positive emotions that result from gratitude also make it more likely for us to exercise and care about our health. If we are grateful for the bodies we have, we are far more likely to take care of them.