8 Amazing Benefits of Gratitude
Sharon was a person that focused on negativity she struggled to find anything good about her life. So, she was chronically unhappy. Her finances were terrible. She didn’t make as much money as her co-workers, her boss sensed her negative energy.
Her marriage sucked. Her side hustle wasn’t taking off because people weren’t attracted to what she was offering.
Finally, after hearing yet another rant about everything that wasn’t working in her life, Sharon’s friend suggested the common denominator. “Perhaps the problem isn’t everyone else. Perhaps the problem is you. Do you even realize how often you complain?” She asked. Deeply offended, Sharon made a conscious effort to watch how often she complained. She was surprised to find that she had complained more than a dozen times by midmorning and at the end of the day, she discovered she’d complained over 30 times.
Sharon Is Not Alone. Most people complain about an average of 30 times a day. Can you believe that? This constant stream of fault-finding rewires your brain for negativity, opens you up to potential health problems, may damage your career, and infect your relationships. With so much at risk, what’s the alternative? How can you break the cycle of negativity and complaining? Is it really possible to train yourself to not only look for the positive but to focus on it as well?
The answer is available in a simple yet difficult word: gratitude. Gratitude is simply the “quality of being thankful” (Oxford dictionary). But it’s a difficult quality to master when if you’re not willing to make mindful changes. Those who willingly embrace gratitude often discover so many surprising gifts like…
Gift #1: Gratitude Lowers Stress
Picture this: you’re in the car on the way to an important appointment. You’re running late and you get behind a slow driver. Traffic prevents you from switching lanes. You’re stuck where you are. What’s how do you react? If you’re like most people, the answer probably involves some complaining, negativity, and general unhappiness. After all, you can’t change your circumstances right now.
But what if you challenged yourself to change your outlook? Instead of fretting over being late, you can take action. Take sixty seconds to focus on something you’re profoundly grateful for such as the laughter of a child or a delicious dinner you shared with your sister-friends yesterday. Savor the happiness of that moment and hold onto that, rather than your resentment towards traffic.
Gift #2: Thankfulness Challenges Adversity
The job you wanted wasn’t offered to you. The deal you needed didn’t come through. The company went bankrupt and you’re left holding the bag.
Everyone encounters adversity at some point. Yet some people are resilient. No matter what they face, they always seem to bounce back and turn obstacles into opportunities to better themselves. What’s the secret? It’s simple—grateful people are focused on what’s going right, on what resources they already have, and how to use their blessings to transform misfortunes. This enables them to cope with minor setbacks and crushing defeats and keeps them encouraged to move forward with their dreams.
Gift #3: Gratitude Strengthens Relationships
It’s hard to make yourself feel love or act kindly toward someone when you’re always focused on their faults. Maybe you have legitimate points. Perhaps your relationship issues need to be evaluated. But do you honestly believe you’re going to strengthen your relationship by telling the other person exactly what they’re doing wrong?
Look beyond the surface stuff. Perhaps your spouse is forgetful but what else are they? Are they an amazing parent? A spiritual man? A kick-butt leader? An incredible support system to you as you’re growing your side hustle?
Grateful people aren’t focused on what the other person is doing wrong. They’re looking at how much joy and contentment their loved one brings to them, and they’re eager to return that joy.
Gift #4: Thankfulness Encourages Self-Love
Making strides toward self-love is difficult if you’re always repeating your flaws and failures in your head. If you’re like most people, you probably have a mental list of reasons why you’re unworthy, unlovable, and undeserving of good things. But gratitude allows you to step back and see positive things about yourself.
Sarah always hated her feet. Once when she was in sixth grade, she complained they were too big to her father. She wanted small, dainty feet like all of her friends. Her father listened then said, “Sweet pea, those feet will take you anywhere you want to go.” His words changed her perspective and made her realize how blessed she was to have two working feet when other’s feet may be flawed. Many years later, Sarah would celebrate her feet by running marathons, getting pedicures, moisturizing her heels, and finding super cute fancy shoes.
Gift #5: Gratitude Boosts Creativity
When you’re happy and buoyant, it’s easier to sit down and write that next chapter, paint that picture, or post that next FB Live. The time flies by and you anticipate what you’ll do with the finished project. If you focus on gratitude and the amazing blessings you already have in your life, it’s much easier to allow your creative juices to flow. You are inspired to complete your projects, give them your full focus and overcome challenges with ease and joy.
Gift #6: Thankfulness Reduces Materialism
Do you ever find yourself opening a stuffed closet and wondering how you came to own so much stuff? Maybe parts of your home are even inaccessible due to the extra clothing, blankets, or spare parts you keep around.
An easily forgotten gift from gratitude is that it reduces materialism. After all, if you’re grateful for that warm winter coat that flatters your figure, why on earth would you keep three other ones that don’t fit?
Gift #7: Gratitude Promotes Selfless Giving
There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates the joy of giving. During a temple (church) service, some attendees begin donating vast amounts of money in an effort to impress others. Then a widow shyly comes forward and shares the equivalent of a few cents. Yet the widow is the one who’s praised in the story. It’s not that she gave so much. She gave far less than anyone else. But what she shared was everything she had!
When you regularly meditate on your blessings and consider how much you’ve been given, it’s easier to share the abundance. You may not have everything you want today but chances are, you have more than you need in many areas of life. Will you be generous with your abundance? One of my favorite mantras comes from the book The Big Leap – it goes like this, I expand in abundance, success, and love and inspire those around me to do the same. It speaks to the power of the abundance that can become part of your life with gratitude. Try saying this during your quiet meditations and watch how your energy shifts.
Gift #8: Thankfulness Improves Your Health
Giving thanks is a wonderful way to improve your health. In fact, people who regularly take time to practice gratitude have cortisol (the stress hormone) levels that are up to 20% lower than the normal population (UC Davis Health). But the benefits don’t stop there. Gratitude also lowers your blood pressure, improves your sleep, and decreases chronic pain. Some studies have even shown that a regular gratitude practice can improve your overall immune function, making you less likely to get sick.
Gratitude Is A Habit (Not Just A Feeling!)
Embracing a grateful spirit doesn’t mean you’ll never have another bad day. But it does mean that you’ll approach these days differently. Instead of cataloging everything that’s going wrong, you can lift your head up to the sky and look for the silver lining. And know that good things are in store. That’s the power of gratitude!
At The Women’s Empowerment Institute, we embrace gratitude on every level and would love for you enjoy one of those experiences with us. So grab a sister-friend and meet us at… The Legacy Theater at Phase in Alpharetta, GA on February 22, 2020, for the Women’s Only ~ Live2Lead Rebroadcast + Brunch. Purchase tickets here. The Early Bird Special of 25% off ends December 15th.