When I was a kid, my mom would remind me to say “Thank you” when someone gave me a gift or did something for me. Now, as a mother, I remind my own kids to say “Thank you” for those same reasons. For some people it is simple and easy to show gratitude and appreciation, while others find it more difficult. However, there are many benefits to be had from adopting a more grateful outlook.
Research indicates that people who have an attitude of gratitude reap many positive results. Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at University of California, Davis and a leading scientific expert on the science of gratitude said, “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.” One study published by the American Psychological Association found that grateful teens are less likely to have behavior problems at school, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and more likely to be happy. As a parent, I want this for my children. Every day at dinner, we say grace to remind us to be thankful not only for the food we are about to eat, but also for the people, places, things and events in our lives that we are grateful for.
For married couples, there is evidence linking gratitude to positive marital outcomes. A University of Georgia study found that spousal expression of gratitude was the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality. Ted Futris study co-author and associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences stated, “We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your beliefs that it will last.” Showing appreciation for your spouse helps to counter the negative effects of poor communication during times of conflict as well. So, if your spouse does something that makes you happy or that you appreciate, be sure to express your gratitude to them. In doing so, you are helping to strengthen your marriage, as well as reap some health benefits for yourself.
One way you can practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. You do not need to buy a fancy book with blank pages in order to keep a journal. You can use a plain notebook or even an online resource to keep track of the things in your life that you are thankful for. Many people prefer to reflect on the things they appreciate first thing in the morning while others prefer to wait until bedtime. Some people use apps on their phones to remind them periodically throughout the day to pause and reflect on what they are appreciative of. Regardless of when you choose to practice gratitude, you and those you love will benefit from it.
Thank you for taking the time to read about gratitude.