Wired for Gratitude

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Wired-for-Gratitude

We have been writing a lot about gratitude in the past month. And we wanted to continue sharing the research we have found on why gratitude is so good for our well-being. Gratitude is universal, spanning across cultures and history. We see many forms of gratitude such as giving gifts, time and status to honor to those around us.  To our surprise there was a study in 2012 by the John Templeton Foundation. It concludes “While 90% of respondents consider themselves grateful, only 52 percent of women and 44 percent of the men surveyed express gratitude on a regular basis.” These results are an eye opener to us. Based on the recent research that has been published gratitude is a key to success. Gratitude is a foundation for many other areas of our well-being. 

Positive Mind Makes for a Positive Body

When we embody gratitude we feel better and more energetic. This means that we are more likely to go out for hikes or other physical activities. We also are more likely to interact with those we love and be present throughout the day. Geoffery James comments on this in his article, Neuroscience Says Your Body and Mind Get Stronger When You Focus on This 1 Thing, “According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who keep gratitude journals ‘reported fewer health complaints, more time exercising, and fewer symptoms of physical illness.’” (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/neuroscience-says-your-body-mind-get-stronger-when-you-focus-on-this-one-thingdraft-1562273865.html?fbclid=IwAR0Q-D4cLzOmSlgYxtJTDBzl-u1s1bDStlmgOZIpJ1lnnoqgGSoQ3FHGGsQ) With this increase activity we see healthier and better sleep patterns, and reduced stress levels in those who practice more gratitude. According to a study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information“cultivating appreciation and other positive emotions showed lower levels of stress hormones [specifically] a 23 percent reduction in cortisol and 100 percent increase in DHEA/DHEAS levels.” (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/neuroscience-says-your-body-mind-get-stronger-when-you-focus-on-this-one-thingdraft-1562273865.html?fbclid=IwAR0Q-D4cLzOmSlgYxtJTDBzl-u1s1bDStlmgOZIpJ1lnnoqgGSoQ3FHGGsQ) Both of these allow for a better mental capacity for handling the day and all of its challenges, as well as being key components to help heal the brain.

While we are on the subject of healthy bodies, it is important to note that having more gratitude leads to a healthier and stronger heart. Some of this can be from the increase in exercise and reduced stress levels we mention above. “A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association found that patients who kept gratitude journals for eight weeks showed reductions in levels of several inflammatory biomarkers while they wrote.” (https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health)

A part of a healthy body is a healthy mind. In her article, Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude, Linda Roszak Burton mentions three studies on how gratitude helps keep the mind healthy and promotes overall well-being. “A 2006 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found Vietnam War veterans with high levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder…Stats Show Improved Mental Health – Recently published, the Journal of Research in Personality examined gratitude and grit to confer resiliency to suicide by increasing meaning in life…Emotional Well-Being – A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found the relationship between gratitude and well-being leads to lower stress and depression and higher levels of social support.”  (https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health

Gratitude and the Effects on Health at Work

One aspect of life that greatly affects gratitude and acts of gratitude is work. We can see that a leader who expresses how grateful they are will yield more productive output with happier employees. A study reported by Harvard Medical School and done by researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that “employees who were thanked by their managers made 50% more fund-raising calls than their counterparts who hadn’t heard the same token of appreciation.” We can be apply this to other industries. Just think of how wonderful the world would be in we heard more thank yous at work! This increase in productivity accompanies the idea that gratitude and appreciation creates feelings of being valued. Often when we feel valued we are in productive, healthy relationships. We also tend to have high job satisfaction, and motivation to do our best, working towards achieving the company’s goals. 

Our Bodies are Wired to be at Their Best When We Are Grateful

If we pull this all together we can see that our bodies and minds are at their best when we are maintaining gratitude throughout the day. We see an increase in healing in the mind and body. This in turn creates more energy and a drive for interaction with others. All of this leads to an increase in productivity with success shared by all. As the quote from Cicero states, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” We have access to a strong foundation of gratitude within ourselves. It is from this which all other aspects of our lives grow and thrive.

Read more UCA articles on gratitude, self-care, and well-being on our other blogs. Some examples are: Caring Through the Gift of Time, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Thank you for reading our blog, and for being a part of a caring community! 

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