The experience of gratitude has historically been a focus of several large world religions and philosophies, but the systematic study of gratitude within Western psychology only began around the turn of this century, possibly because psychology has traditionally been focused more on understanding distress and dis-function rather than positive emotions. Gratitude is now a mainstream study of psychological research because of the dramatic findings in an ever-increasing number of studies.
A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Gratitude has been said to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait!
Numerous studies suggest that grateful people are more likely to:
- have higher levels of happiness,
- a greater feeling of control of their environment,
- have positive ways of coping with difficulties
- higher perception of personal growth
- Reinterpret and grow from the experience of a problem
- seek support from others
- a strong sense of life-purpose
- possess a higher level of self-acceptance.
Grateful people are less likely to:
- avoid or deny problems,
- blame themselves
- abuse substances.
Grateful people display significantly lower levels of stress and depression, and grateful people sleep better than non-grateful people.
Like all the other spiritual muscles we have been strengthening this term, if gratitude doesn’t come naturally to you, then you need to practice!
Here are some links to peer-reviewed psychology websites if you would like to read more: