Can gratitude improve your mental and physical health? – Part 2
Dr Jozelle Miller
November 28, 2023
Can gratitude improve your mental and physical health? – Part 2

Gratitude and Personality Benefits
The practice of gratitude can enhance your personality.

Gratitude can…
11. Make us more optimistic
Showing our gratitude not only helps others feel more positively. It also makes us think more positively. Regularly writing about things you are grateful for has been shown to result in 5% to 15% increases in optimism (Amin, 2014), meaning that the more we think about what we are grateful for, the more we find to be grateful for.

12. Increase our spirituality
If you are feeling a little too “worldly” or feeling lost spiritually, practicing gratitude can help you get out of your spiritual dryness. The more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be grateful, and vice versa (Urgesi, Aglioti, Skrap, & Fabbro, 2010).

13. Make us more giving
Another benefit to both ourselves and others, gratitude can decrease our self-centeredness. Evidence has shown that promoting gratitude in people makes them more likely to share with others, even at the expense of themselves, and even if the receiver was a stranger (DeSteno, Bartlett, Baumann, Williams, & Dickens, 2010).

14. Indicate reduced materialism
Another consideration is that, those who are the most grateful also tend to be less materialistic, likely because people who appreciate what they already have are less likely to fixate on obtaining more. It’s probably also not a surprise to learn that those who are grateful and less materialistic enjoy greater life satisfaction (Tsang, Carpenter, Roberts, Frisch, & Carlisle, 2014).

15. Enhance optimism
A study on the effects of gratitude on positive affectivity and optimism found that a gratitude intervention resulted in greater tendencies towards positivity and an expanded capacity for happiness and optimism (Lashani, Shaeiri, Asghari-Moghadam, & Golzari, 2012).

Gratitude and Career Benefits
Gratitude in the workplace can demonstrate benefits both to the employers and employees. Practicing gratitude in the workplace can:

16. Make us more effective managers
Gratitude research has shown that practicing gratitude enhances your managerial skills, enhancing your praise-giving and motivating abilities as a mentor and guide to the employees you manage (Stone & Stone, 1983).

17. Reduce impatience and improve decision-making
Those that are more grateful than others are also less likely to be impatient during economic decision-making, leading to better decisions and less pressure from the desire for short-term gratification (DeSteno, Li, Dickens, & Lerner, 2014).

18. Help us find meaning in our work
Those who find meaning and purpose in their work are often more effective and more fulfilled throughout their career. Gratitude is one factor that can help people find meaning in their job, along with applying their strengths, positive emotions and flow, hope, and finding a “purpose” (Dik, Duffy, Allan, O’Donnell, Shim, & Steger, 2015).

19. Contribute to reduced turnover
Research has found that gratitude and respect in the workplace can help employees feel embedded in their organization, or welcomed and valued (Ng, 2016). This is especially important in the early stages of a career when new employees are still finding their way and are less likely to be afforded respect from their older or more experienced peers.

20. Improve work-related mental health and reduce stress
Employing gratitude at work can have a significant impact on staff mental health, stress, and turnover. In a rigorous examination of the effects of gratitude on stress and depressive symptoms in hospital staff, researchers learned that the participants randomly assigned to the gratitude group reported fewer depressive symptoms and stress (Cheng, Tsui, & Lam, 2015). Finding things to be grateful for at work, even in stressful jobs, can help protect staff from the negative side effects of their job.

Gratitude and Physical Health
There is also ample evidence that practicing gratitude can improve your physical health. For example, it has been shown that gratitude can…

21. Reduce depressive symptoms

A study on gratitude also showed a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms for several weeks of depressed patients; while those practicing gratitude journaling reported a similar reduction in depressive symptoms for as long as the journaling continued (Seligman et al., 2005).

22. Reduce your blood pressure
Patients with hypertension who “count their blessings” at least once a week experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, resulting in better overall health (Shipon, 1977). Want a healthy heart? Count your blessings!

23. Improve your sleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping or just waking up feeling fatigued, try a quick gratitude journaling exercise before bed – it could make the difference between groggy and great in the morning!

24. Increase your frequency of exercise
Being grateful can help you get fit! It may not be a very effective “fast weight loss” plan. It reduces the release of cortisol which is the hormone known to aid in weight gain.

25. Improve your overall physical health
Evidence shows that the more grateful a person is the more likely he or she is to enjoy better physical health, as well as psychological health (Hill, Allemand, & Roberts, 2013).

It is a point that, grateful people are healthy people!