Health benefits of gratitude

“In a world with limited resources, if you express your gratitude, you’ll find greater geniality and genuine care,” says Dr Sood.

There has been a wealth of research on the health benefits of regular gratitude practice.

A 2003 study by researchers at the University of California found that participants who adopted a weekly gratitude practice reported considerably more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, slept better, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt more connected with others than the participants who did not.

The physiological and mental response to gratitude can be felt in four other, seemingly unrelated, areas. Angeles Arrien, cultural anthropologist and author of Living in Gratitude, calls them the ‘four quadrants of life experience’.

“The benefits of gratitude practice are multidimensional. Four quadrants of life experience, which human beings experience cross-culturally, are health and wellbeing, work environments and communities, financial stability and relationships,” he says. “Two other areas of human experience – character development and spiritual growth – are influenced by, and in turn influence, all four quadrants. As a result, gratitude practice in the four quadrants of life also benefits our personal evolution.”

Dr Amit Sood, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, adds that gratitude can also help you to heal faster than a person with ingratitude.

“I have found one distinct predictor of which patients will get better sooner – their attitude of gratitude,” he says. “The more you appreciate the care you receive, the greater its benefit.”

The reason for this phenomenon is unclear. It could be due to the ‘surrender effect’, where the patient is more receptive to the medicine or treatment, or due to receiving better service.

“In a world with limited resources, if you express your gratitude, you’ll find greater geniality and genuine care,” says Dr Sood.

Indeed, gratitude appears to attract generosity in a multitude of ways.

“The more thankful you are, the more reasons you’ll find to be thankful,” says Dr Sood. “What you focus on expands. You receive more, but not for selfish fulfilment. When you graciously share, the energy finds you an optimal conduit for distributing itself. Gratitude works as a magnet to attract life’s gifts that you can then pay forward.”

You might like: 4 tips for starting a gratitude journal or Why sleep is the third pillar of health

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