What if we told you your ability to be happier, healthier, and more productive was all in your head? While this might be a bit of a stretch, research has shown that gratitude is actually a powerful emotion that can have an effect on our emotions, our sleep, and our overall health.
Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and a prominent gratitude researcher, says gratitude “can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.”1
Dr. Emmons collaborated with Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami to study how keeping a simple gratitude journal can affect our lives. In the study, the participants were split into three groups. One group wrote down things they were thankful for, a second focused on what irritated them, and the last group wrote down anything they wanted to note without regard to how it made them feel. Not surprisingly, those who kept a gratitude journal had a more positive outlook on their lives. What surprised researchers was the effect it had on their health. The gratitude group exercised more and had fewer trips to the doctor than those who kept a list of complaints.2 Emmon also noted that, “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.”3
And if that’s not enough, another study with a similar method by DeSteno, Li, Dickens, and Lerner published in Psychological Science found that, “gratitude reduces impatience even with real money at stake.”4
Looking at the research, we can see gratitude might help you…
- Achieve your retirement goals.
- Relieve the stress that comes with the inevitable ups and downs of the market.
- Increase your patience as you wait for your investments to grow.
- Reduce anxiety related to inflation.
- Increase contentment in the resources you already have.
There are many ways to practice gratitude to achieve these benefits. As we approach the holiday season, here are some ideas for you to implement this year to help you start 2024 with a brighter outlook!
- Think of someone who made a significant impact on your life and write them a thank you letter.
- Use our GW Financial, Inc. Gratitude Journal
- Endeavor to say thank you to someone different every day for 2 weeks.
- Take time to notice little things in nature (e.g. a beautiful sunrise or a fragrant flower).
- Find one thing every day that affects each of your senses (e.g. the taste of cheesecake, the smell of the ocean, the sound of a baby laughing, the feel of a soft sweater, and the sight of a colorful bird).
- Change an irritation into a blessing (e.g. instead of “I have to do dishes again” say “I am thankful I have food to eat”).
- Create planned giving to help those you love or causes you support.
Obviously, gratitude is an incredibly impactful practice. There are many ways we can express our gratitude if we are intentional. If planned giving is a way you’d like to show gratitude to those who have impacted you, see how GW Financial, Inc. can help you transfer wealth wisely by scheduling a call with us today.
4 DeSteno, D., Y. Li, L. Dickens, and J. S. Lerner. 2014. “Gratitude: A Tool for Reducing Economic Impatience.” Psychological Science (April 23).
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