Why Practicing Gratitude Matters, Even When Everything Is Awful

Scientists have recommended that people actively try to be grateful. They have found that gratitude has actual positive physical benefits. Gratitude has been shown to lower blood pressure, prolong life, and help people to sleep better. Acting grateful helps the person to maintain stability during hard times, and to avoid a negative cycle of despair. The mechanisms of acting grateful are varied. One mechanism is to ask people in a gathering to share their individual thoughts about what they are grateful for. This action reduces group stress, as a family gathering can focus of good rather than divisive things. Another mechanism is to write down a list of things a person may be grateful for. A list of one hundred things to be grateful is supplied in a separate article. Examples include pets, coffee, movies, memories of good deeds, health, favorite tv shows, favorite singers, friends, and family. In an addition, one author, Barry Schwartz, recommends focusing on little things, such as how the pretty the light can be to the eye. Another idea is to nightly ask questions about how gratitude could improve life.

Key Points:

  • 1These are trying times, and it may seem difficult to be grateful about all of the good things in our lives, but now more than ever gratitude is necessary.
  • 2Being grateful, and expressing it, can be healthy and among the positive effects are lowered blood pressure and improved sleep.
  • 3Have a round-robin discussion of thankfulness at a family gathering, make a list of things for which you are grateful, and every night recognize how gratitude improves your well-being.

In other words, you might not be able to control external, distressing events, but you can still use positive psychology to keep your own internal waters calm.

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