Facing difficult life challenges, such as going through a divorce, may not seem like a logical time to be thankful. Yet studies have shown that cultivating gratitude, even when the chips are down, can have profound impact on our health — for the better.
- Gratitude improves physical health. A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that grateful people exercise more, get regular checkups and generally take better care of their health, which likely contributes to their longevity.
- Being thankful reduces stress. Many studies have found that pausing to reflect on the good things in our lives reduces our stress. In a 2006 study noted in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Gratitude boosts psychological health. The toxic emotions that often bubble up during divorce can result in resentment, anger, frustration and regret. A leading gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, has found a clear link between gratitude and well-being. His studies confirm that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Grateful people sleep better. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that keeping a gratitude journal can have multiple health benefits. Just taking 15 minutes before bedtime to write down what you are thankful for is likely to help you sleep better and longer.
- Gratitude increases mental strength. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11.
Embracing a happier outlook arms you to emotionally deal with life’s inevitable hardships, setbacks, and heartbreaks,” notes Amy Morin in her book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do (https://amymorinlcsw.com/book). “Mental strength isn’t about acting tough; it’s about feeling empowered to overcome life’s challenges.”
“We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction for life.”