Gratitude is Healthy

Name five things you are grateful for. Go ahead, do it. I’m not asking you to do anything profound here; just name five every day things that you’re thankful for. Was that difficult? For some people that little activity takes a lot of effort. I asked some members of the University of Miami Student Government to make a small poster of some seemingly mundane things they are grateful for. Here is their list: Ok. great. So why am I harping on this? Well, according to Amy Morin at Forbes Magazine, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. "Cultivating gratitude doesn't cost any money and it certainly doesn't take much time, but the benefits are enormous."As Drs. Blaire and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center, “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.” Ocean Robbins at HuffPost discusses a number of studies that have shown the benefits of practicing gratitude daily. One of those studies was performed, in part, by a Miami Hurricane! Conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, groups of participants were told to keep a short journal, describe five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, or record daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them. The neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the ‘gratitude group’ felt better about their lives as a whole and were a 25% happier than the group who spent their journaling time on things that went wrong with their days. The group of participants who focused on things they were thankful for reported fewer health complaints, and even exercised more.

Research reveals gratitude can have these seven benefits:

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.

  2. Gratitude improves physical health.

  3. Gratitude improves psychological health.

  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

  5. Grateful people sleep better.

  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.

  7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

How can you incorporate practicing gratitude in your daily life and start earning these benefits? Well, UMiami Senior Emily Bajalia, Student Government Treasurer and Kind Bar Brand Ambassador shared some insight on gratitude and kindness with Her Campus: “There are so many simple ways that we can show gratitude and kindness in our daily lives. I think the biggest thing is just communicating gratitude and letting people know when you are thankful for them. Too often we go through our daily routines without taking a second to reflect and be grateful for all of the incredible people and opportunities we have. Another way is to take some time to reflect each day and write down 4 or 5 things that you are thankful for. In just a few months, your short list of reasons why you are thankful can become two or three hundred reasons long.”

This actually works people! While I was in high school, one of things my siblings and I had to do in the car every morning on the way to school was name five things we were grateful for. Some days the answers would be things like trees and traffic lights and others forgiveness and health. There were quite a few occasions where my youngest brother would list off body parts. There are still days when I am stressed out or not having a very good week that I get an early morning phone call from home that consists of playing the gratitude game. And even on the days that I roll my eyes before answering, I feel better after participating.

We live in a world where we don’t always remember to pause and be grateful, but as Bajalia said, “We should be thankful for the kind acts of others because the more people that spread kindness, the better off our community is.” So, go make your life and your community healthier!