These words aren’t said often enough
Simple words said too seldom – thank you.
Expressing gratitude can have a profound effect on others as well as ourselves. Hearing that our deeds are appreciated and letting others know they are appreciated boosts feelings of usefulness and self-worth.
“Often, we focus on the bad things that happen to us. But when we focus on good things, we begin to feel better emotionally and physically,” says Dr. Divyang Joshi, internal medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill.
Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, who researches and has written about the effects of gratitude, believes gratitude is more than a positive emotion; he’s discovered it also improves your health if you are intentional about being grateful and showing it.
In his book “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” Emmons’ research reveals that by practicing gratitude, you can increase your happiness by 25%.
The late motivational author Louise Hay taught about the benefits of gratitude for decades. Having experienced significant abuse in her childhood, she emerged as an adult who found positive aspects in her challenges and became grateful for the lessons she learned. Her 1984 best seller “You Can Heal Your Life” is still regarded as one of the best self-help books on positivity and gratitude – and remains relevant today.
Whether you commit to writing a daily gratitude journal or simply want to be a more grateful person, here’s a list of health benefits adapted from Forbes, compiled by psychotherapist and author Amy Morin:
- Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular doctor check-ups.
- Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. According to Dr. Emmons’ research, gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Grateful people sleep better.Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes writing a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, which is an essential component to performance. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who are better athletes, have more money or better jobs, grateful people can appreciate other’s accomplishments.
Dr. Joshi says, “The word ‘gratitude’ is the most healing and creative juice for inner peace.”
About the Author
Chris Vicik, health enews contributor, is the director of public affairs for Advocate Health Care's north region, which includes Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington, and Sherman Hospital in Elgin. She has more than 20 years of health care marketing and public affairs experience with hospitals in the Chicagoland area. Chris has two college-age kids who have made her an empty nester. She enjoys playing racquetball, biking and running. Chris is a dog lover and spends a lot of time playing with her clever beagle, Zoey.