Gratitude: it feels good to say “thank you” and grandma would nod in approval, but is there a research benefit to backup Grandma? In eight different studies, gratitude was shown to reduce feelings of depression (Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Stillman, 2012). Research has also revealed that a gratitude practice lessens anxiety and may help lessen the experience of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Vernon, Dillon & Steiner, 2009).
Gratitude is catalyzed positively when we choose to reframe what happens to us in positive terms.
It improves sleep (Wood, Lloyd & Atkins, 2009) which in turn has a positive impact on mood. And anxiety. And just about everything. It improves overall cardiac health (DuBois, et al., 2012), both indirectly through improving mood and attention to positive health behaviors like fitness and nutrition as well as directly through reduction in inflammation.
It strengthens memory (Ramirez, et al., 2014). For elderly adults, practicing gratitude was shown to improve their overall sense of well-being and quality of life. And who wouldn’t want that?
DuBois, C. M., Beach, S. R., Kashdan, T. B., Nyer, M. B., Park, E. R., Celano, C. M., & Huffman, J. C. (2012). Positive psychological attributes and cardiac outcomes: associations, mechanisms, and interventions. Psychosomatics, 53(4), 303-318. PMID: 22748749 DOI: 10.1016/j.psym.2012.04.004
Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Stillman, T. F. (2012). Gratitude and depressive symptoms: The role of positive reframing and positive emotion. Cognition & Emotion, 26(4), 615-633. PMID: 21923564 DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2011.595393
Ramírez, E., Ortega, A. R., Chamorro, A., & Colmenero, J. M. (2014). A program of positive intervention in the elderly: Memories, gratitude and forgiveness. Aging & mental health, 18(4), 463-470. PMID: 24229346 DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2013.856858
Vernon, L. L., Dillon, J. M., & Steiner, A. R. (2009). Proactive coping, gratitude, and posttraumatic stress disorder in college women. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 22(1), 117-127. PMID: 18791902 DOI: 10.1080/10615800802203751
Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of psychosomatic research, 66(1), 43-48. PMID: 19073292 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.09.002