Gratitude can really improve your life in many areas, including your overall health, job satisfaction, and personal life. One study involving 192 students found that those who used this practice experienced greater life satisfaction and fewer illnesses. You can practice gratitude by listing 10 things to be thankful for today and see what positive results your efforts bring.
The Positive Effects of Gratitude
Philosopher Christian Miller, in his book The Character Gap: How Good Are We? addresses several vital questions related to character and human flourishing. In a chapter devoted to the question of why we should develop good character at all, Miller discusses the role that gratitude can play in our lives. It’s not just about becoming good, it can be good for us.
When we possess the virtue of gratitude, there are positive consequences for our general health, job satisfaction, general mood, and level of optimism. There is a general satisfaction with life, and one begins to feel better. And for this it is not necessary to do some complicated actions, it is enough to master a simple practice of gratitude.
Dr. Miller focused on one study by Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis. It involved 192 undergraduate students who were divided into 3 groups:
- The first group was asked to think about the past week and write down up to 5 things they were grateful for;
- The second group, having difficulty with anything, was asked to write down 5 things from the past day that annoyed them, about work, relationships, money, school, or anything else;
- The third group was the control group. They were asked to simply write down events in their lives. Each study participant did this 10 times during the semester.
The results of the study were very interesting. Here’s how Dr. Miller described them: “Students in the first group, on average, rated their lives over the past week much higher than participants in the other two groups. The same with their expectations for the coming week.” All test results were recorded and scored.
We should strive to be grateful
Strikingly, study participants also reported fewer symptoms of the disease. This was especially noticeable in the first group. Their participants were more likely to feel and practice gratitude more often and more sincerely. Compared to the group with problems in different areas, they had very important advantages. Dr. Miller immediately points out that we should not strive to be virtuous just for the sake of profit. That’s not exactly the right incentive.
Rather, we should view these personal benefits as desirable byproducts of good character. If we do not experience these benefits under certain circumstances, it is unfortunate, but acceptable, since they are not the only or even the primary reason for striving to cultivate virtue. But when we do receive benefits, we should welcome them as a reward for a life well lived.
Exercises to develop gratitude
Developing this skill in yourself is easy: To learn to be grateful in life, you need to take a few minutes every day and write down 10 things for which you are grateful.
It can be big and important things, such as a deep friendship, a meaningful career, or a thriving spiritual life. But it can also include other everyday things: a good cup of coffee in the morning, a favorite song or a good book are also worthy of gratitude.
Dr. Miller says, “My students do it every semester, and I love reading the lists they share with me. And they confess that their lives are really improving.” He devoted an entire book to the phenomenon, detailing how gratitude can improve quality of life. It has already been proven that people have improved even physically, not to mention spiritually.
You won’t get any benefit if you don’t spend a few minutes doing these exercises. So take some time today and see what effect this practice will have on you. Believe me, you will be pleased with what you get in the end. It will be a gift to you for being grateful and beneficent.