Fitspot’s May Tune In Tuesday was focused on Gratitude. You can watch the full webinar here, or read the highlights below.
What Is Gratitude?
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
How Does Gratitude Affect the Brain?
Acts of kindness and feelings of gratitude flood our brains with a chemical called Dopamine (a neurotransmitter).
This allows a feeling of euphoria and positive emotions to flow through our body.
The hypothalamus is activated when we express and feel gratitude with our thoughts. This part of your brain plays into other functions of your health experience including:
- pain relief
- stress relief, lowers anxiety and depression
- Increased metabolism
- Increased energy and vitality
Why is Gratitude Important?
Gratitude opens the door to more relationships – Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.
Gratitude improves physical health – Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
Gratitude improves psychological health – Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression – Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
Grateful people sleep better – Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
Gratitude improves self-esteem – A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
How does gratitude benefit the workplace?
- Reduced turnover and higher retention – more fulfilled employees and joy being at work
- More productive employees – a deeper sense of personal value
- Happier and more loyal employees – a greater sense of purpose recognition
- Higher profit margins – higher relationship value exchanged between the company and customers/clients
How To Practice Gratitude
- Create a gratitude journal – Write out 5+ things you have in your life you’re grateful for each day (refer back to it from time to time)
- Call or text someone and communicate one thing you are grateful for about them
- Before complaining to someone or to yourself about something, say one thing to them or yourself that you’re grateful for
- Take a walk outside in a park, in your neighborhood, or a trail to appreciate nature
- Go dancing!
About the Author
Anthony Strayhorn is a lifestyle coach, transformation trainer, and meditation expert. He helps people make healthier choices and develop new habits that aim to empower. He lives in Atlanta, GA.