Grateful for Gratitude
“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” - Kristin Armstrong
It’s a known fact that showing gratitude creates a positive environment, whether it’s at home, school, work, or any random place. But studies have shown that being grateful can have many personal benefits on our body, brain, and mental health as well.
There's a difference between showing gratitude and being grateful. When we show gratitude, we are letting others know that we are grateful for something. In general, we’re more used to hearing this because showing gratitude is linked to creating a positive external environment.
Being grateful, on the other hand, has to do with personal fulfillment. Being grateful, in general, may have more effects on personal health and development.
Regardless of whether or not we keep our gratitude to ourselves, thankfulness has been linked to better overall physical health. This doesn’t mean that saying “thank you” once a day will automatically mean we’ll have a healthier body. The correlation is indirect, but it makes sense; people who regularly practice gratitude tend to also show self-gratitude for their body and, therefore, feel the responsibility to take good care of it.
Grateful people not only take better care of their bodies, but they have healthier minds too. Gratitude is shown to make emotions less toxic and more manageable. To put this into context, let’s say you’re stressed. The stress is overpowering and toxic, but when you take a moment to recall the positives of that day (i.e., talking to friends, having dinner with family, watching a funny video of a favorite actor, etc) and feel thankful for that, our mind regains the ability to manage those toxic emotions. It creates a sense of balance to help us take control of our own thoughts and feelings.
Our self-esteem is also greatly impacted by gratitude. When we take the time to appreciate positive aspects of the world around us, we’ll be more likely to be thankful for aspects of ourselves.
Thankfulness is also shown to help ameliorate psychiatric disorders like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Studies by UC Davis are looking into whether gratitude could combat neurodegenerative diseases (which include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease) as well.
Many of us would say we are grateful people because we say “thank you” whenever someone does something in our favor, but how many of us are consciously grateful? While verbally expressing appreciation is important, the key to the physical and mental health benefits of gratitude is in the deliberate expression of thanks. When we mean every “thank you”, take the time to explain why we are thanking someone, start a gratitude jar/journal, or write an elaborate appreciation letter, we are consciously showing thanks. Being purposeful with our gratitude will ultimately help us have more positive minds and healthier bodies.
- Dhisha Kukalakuntla,
Founder & President