As you know, gratitude is the quality of being thankful. It’s a readiness to show appreciation for, and to return, kindness.

So, what are you grateful for?

If the answer comes easily to you, according to research, you’re set up to live a healthy, happy life.

To encourage you to practice gratitude regularly (as in, daily), here are four big benefits that come from gratitude, plus how you can easily incorporate it into your life starting today.

Gratitude Improves Your Relationships

According to a study by Sara B. Algoe and colleagues, gratitude increases your satisfaction with both your relationships and your life. By practicing gratitude, you amplify and strengthen your relationships, no matter how shallow or deep, new or old.

What’s more, there are so many science-backed reasons why being social is good for your health, including improved:

  • Mental health
  • Emotional health
  • Physical health
  • Cognitive health
  • Longevity

Packed full of benefits, right?

So, it’s worth improving this key ingredient for an ideal retirement lifestyle, which is your relationships and connection to people in your community, whether your family, friends, neighbors or even strangers.

Gratitude Helps You Sleep and Exercise

In a study of over 400 participants, researchers from Manchester, UK revealed a strong correlation between gratitude and the quality of your sleep. They discovered that gratitude “influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions.”

Which means, if you go to bed with the right mindset of gratitude, you’ll catch better z’s.

On top of that, another 11-week study of 96 Americans, found that the participants who practiced gratitude by keeping a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more each week compared to those who didn’t.

So, not only do you get better sleep, but also practicing gratitude gives you an energy boost for better exercising.

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, you can read more about the importance of sleep + 11 sleep tips to help you get a good night’s rest.

Gratitude Boosts Your Physical Health

Naturally, if you’re exercising more, getting better sleep, and strengthening your relationships, gratitude will also improve your overall physical health.

There’s research to back up this benefit of practicing gratitude. One study out of San Diego, CA analyzed results of close to 185 patients.

Their discovery? People who have gratitude experience a range of health benefits, including a better mood, better heart health and (again) better sleep.

The team of researchers found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with “better mood, better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health.”

The lesson is short and sweet: Gratitude positively impacts your overall health, which means your sleep quality, mood, fatigue level and cardiac health.

Gratitude Improves Your Mental Health

Gratitude is also good for your emotional and mental health. According to one study, grateful people tend to be more agreeable and open, which also means less neurotic. The same study found that gratefulness decreases depression and improves your life satisfaction.

What’s more, practicing gratitude reduces cortisol by 23%, and that means you have less stress overall.

After all, when too much cortisol hormone is released in your body, your blood pressure and sugar levels rise, which can ultimately lead to chronic problems like hypertension, carb cravings, and fat deposits on your face, neck, and belly (yikes!).

Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced practicing gratitude is a daily must, let’s get to some simple tactics.

Easily Practice Gratitude by Keeping a Gratitude Journal

One of the easiest ways to practice gratitude regularly is to keep a gratitude journal. It’s a powerful way to make gratitude a daily habit.

On top of that, gratitude journaling has positive health impacts according to 2016 pilot study. Researchers found that patients who kept a gratitude journal for two months showed reduced markers of inflammation and increased heart rate variability (HRV).

(HRV is a key indicator of your health since heart failure is normally characterized by a loss of HRV as a disease progresses.)

So, What’s It Take to Keep a Gratitude Journal?

It’s as simple (and personal) as writing down each day what you’re grateful for.

Formore specific tips on getting the most out of gratitude journaling, look to Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude and renowned author, who recommends these gratitude journaling tips:

Don’t Just Go Through the Motions

Make the conscious effort to journal for the purpose of becoming happier and more grateful, rather than just as a routine exercise.

Go for Depth Over Breadth

Dig deep and elaborate on the details of why you’re grateful for something, instead of only listing off typical items.

Focus on People

Appreciate people instead of possessions or things that you’re grateful for. You can even try writing and sending thank you cards to people.

Try Subtraction, Not Just Addition

Count your blessings, but also try picturing what your life would be like without certain people or things.

Savor Surprises in Your Life

Jot down notes about life’s surprising and unexpected joys. This will elicit a stronger level of gratitude.

Grateful for You

THANK YOU for being proactive in educating yourself to lead a happier, healthier life. You’re helping to shift our culture to be better – simply by reading and implementing healthy habits into your daily life.

It’s our everyday mission to help people live a purposeful retirement lifestyle to be active, healthy, and engaged – and to stave off scary stats on the rise, like Alzheimer’s, loneliness, depression, and nursing home occupancy.

For the path to a purposeful retirement life, check out this free workshop on How to Live a Purposeful Retirement Lifestyle.

Do you practice gratitude? Is this a daily habit? If not, what can you do today to commit to practicing gratitude? How can you practice gratitude regularly? Have you thought about a gratitude journal? Please share your thoughts with our community.

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