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The Benefits and Importance of Expressing Gratitude

It turns out that saying Thank You is kind of a Superpower. Many studies, including one from Harvard University, have found strong links between expressing gratitude and overall happiness. As the holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving, an entire day dedicated to gratitude (ok, and maybe turkey), we wanted to review some of the benefits of expressing gratitude that will make you want to take the process beyond thanksgiving and perhaps into your daily routine.

Below are three ways that expressing gratitude can change your life for the better

1. A more hopeful and positive mindset

Two psychologists from UC David conducted research where they asked participants to write a few sentences a week, and one of those corpus focused on what they were grateful for. After just 10 weeks, that group felt significantly more optimistic than the rest. They also were found to have fewer visits to the doctor than those who didn’t write about gratitude!

2. Improved relationships

Did you know that empathy can increase when you’re more grateful? A 2012 paper in Social Psychology and Personality Science found increased gratitude was linked to greater empathy.“Gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others,” the research found. It was also found to decrease aggression.

If you're looking to improve your relationships, expressing gratitude is an easy way to kick-start the process.

3. Improved sleep 

Have you tried making a list of what you’re grateful for before bed? This is not only a much healthier way to wind down rather than scrolling through instagram, but it might actually help you sleep better! A 2009 study from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that people who expressed gratitude not only slept better, but also longer than people who didn’t.

Given that it’s scientifically proven that you can improve your mental health, relationships, and sleep, you might be asking “how can I express gratitude?” There is no magic gratitude pill, and it takes a concerted effort on your part. Luckily, it’s also quite easy. Just grab a pen and paper and write a list of things you’re grateful for. Try doing this in the morning as part of a healthy routine to kickstart your day, or at night right before bed. Another easy way is to simply say “thank you” more to people in your life. Have you expressed gratitude to your loved ones lately? Pick up the phone and let them know! Not only will you feel better, but you’re also uplifting another person in the process.

If you haven’t had a gratitude practice before, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to kick one off. Remember, it’s never too late to get started!

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