6 Positive Impacts of Gratitude

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


Did you know that happiness can be increased by 25%  when we express gratitude?

It’s one of the most overlooked, powerful tools to help regain joy in life. At Serenity, we have found that incorporating gratitude in the treatment process improves the outcome of the treatment long-term. In addition to our findings, there are many different ways that gratitude helps improve life both for the individual practicing it and for those around them.

1. Increased Self-Esteem

When we appreciate who we are, we focus less on comparing ourselves to others, which significantly influences low self-esteem, reducing likelihood of eating disorders  and anxiety attacks .

Rather than comparing their own successes to those of others, people who practice gratitude are more aware of their own strengths. A 2011 gratitude study  compared those actively practicing gratitude to those who did not and found that individuals who were more thankful demonstrated higher levels of:

  • Alertness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Determination
  • Attentiveness
  • Energy

2. You’ll Be More Optimistic

Optimism  has been proven to strengthen immune functioning, helping to prevent physical illnesses and improve ability to cope with stress. Since gratitude and optimism are so closely related, studies have shown that grateful people experience similar benefits. Overall, they are happier, have more social support, and are less likely to experience symptoms of depression.

3. Improved Mood

Leading gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being . His research suggests that gratitude eliminates room for toxic emotions like regret, jealousy, and resentment. “It’s (near) impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time,” says Emmons.

4. Reduced Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

A U.C. Berkley study  found that writing gratitude letters for three weeks straight improved the mental health of individuals struggling with depression and anxiety symptoms.

293 young adults participated in this study, and were randomly assigned whether they would practice standard psychotherapy, psychotherapy with journaling, or psychotherapy with gratitude journaling. At the end of the study, those who were assigned gratitude journaling reported much better mental health than those in the other two groups.

The practice of gratitude shifts attention away from negative emotions and thoughts- which are commonly experienced by those suffering from depression and anxiety. Making gratitude a priority increases discipline of the mind, allowing better control of negative self-talk and emotions.

5. Improved Relationships

Gratitude not only improves our existing bonds but promotes growth in new relationships as well by helping increase feelings of appreciation.

Results from a recent relationship study  show that those who practice gratitude are more likely to:

  • Listen to others and support them emotionally
  • Share their belongings with others
  • Forgive more willingly
  • Have mutually beneficial long-term relationships
  • Have decreased relationship anxiety
  • Communicate effectively through conflict

6. Greater Physical Health

In addition to the psychological benefits of gratitude, it can also positively impact physical health. When individuals appreciate their health, they are more likely to care for their body better. A study by The Happier Human  shows that those who kept a weekly gratitude journal:

  • Spent more time exercising
  • Reported fewer physical symptoms
  • Had lower blood pressure
  • Experienced higher energy levels

Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to be tied to celebrating special life events like promotions, weddings, or holidays; experiencing a brand-new day, finding a new favorite song, or getting to spend time with a furry friend is more than enough. The more we practice gratitude, the stronger our ability gets to see the good, and with it, the ability to cope with the difficult times that mental illness can bring.

Whether you choose to write a few sentences in a journal or take a moment to acknowledge all you have, giving thanks can transform your life. To learn more about how Serenity’s gratitude based approach works for our patients, check out our testimonials page. 

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.