Obsessively Grateful

Obsession can be a really bad thing. Dictionary.com describes obsession as “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.” We have certainly been victims of obsessions that are destructive, however…

Obsession with gratefulness is really a good thing. The benefits of gratefulness are just being fully uncovered, although God has shared this with us since the beginning. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, God encourages us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Today science is showing us the tremendous impact that becoming grateful, obsessively grateful, is really good:

Gratitude improves physical healthRobert A Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis reports, “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” A recent study from UC San Diego’s School of Medicine also found that grateful people have “better heart health, specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.”  A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences reveals that grateful people also experience fewer aches and pains, and report being generally overall healthier than other people.

Gratitude improves psychological health: Gratitude helps us reduce many toxic emotions like envy, resentment, frustration and regret. Grateful people report being happier people and demonstrate higher emotional resilience. In a 2017 study, Researcher Chih-Che Lin discovered that, even when controlling for personality, a high level of gratitude has a strong positive impact on psychological well-being, self-esteem, and depression. By becoming obsessively grateful, and living a life of gratitude, we can increase the odds of emotional well-being in our lives.

Gratitude improves sleep: According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, you can improve your sleep with a simple practice. By taking a few minutes to jot down some grateful sentiments before bed, you may sleep longer and improve the quality of your sleep.

Gratitude improves self-esteem: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that the practice of gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem known to be an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem, grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. According to a 2012 study at the University of Kentucky, grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave unkindly toward them. Participants in the study who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to seek retaliation against others, even when given negative feedback. The grateful group reported higher levels of empathy and sensitivity toward others, and a reduced desire to seek revenge.

Gratitude increases mental strength. Gratitude has been shown, for some time, to be a key ingredient in helping trauma victims heal, along with being a great stress reducer. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  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.  Fostering a habit of gratefulness, even during difficult times, builds resilience.

Gratitude opens the door to improved, and possibly more, relationships. Being intentional with appreciation in ongoing relationships has been consistently shown to increase the connection. In addition, saying “thank you” constitutes good manners, and showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Whether you thank a stranger for holding the door, appreciate the cup of coffee your spouse brought, or send a quick thank-you note to a neighbor who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities and strengthen existing ones.

As we head into the Christmas season and focus on giving, commit to being grateful. Obsessively grateful!

Living the Unboundedlife,

Susan and Jere