7 ways being grateful is good for your brain

From better self-esteem through to being happier, practising gratitude has many health benefits.

The whole gratitude thing has been a hot topic for a while—but if you haven’t got onboard yet, here are a few reasons why you should. And if you don't believe us, check out what former monk Jay Shetty has to say on the benefits of gratitude.

Thanks for chilling out

Being grateful makes you nicer, even when people around you are being douchebags. In a study from 2012, people with higher gratitude ratings were less likely to retaliate in negative situations, were more sensitive, and less likely to be vengeful.

Thanks for more happiness

Through the act of being grateful, you’re able to process and reduce toxic emotions like envy, resentment, frustration, and regret. In doing this, according to gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons ; you’re able to make room for feelings of joy, love, and optimism. He actually found that 10 weeks of writing in a gratitude journal can boost happiness by up to 25%.

Thanks for better self-esteem

This may sound contradictory, but the more appreciative you are for other people and things, the more you are able to accept appreciation from others, and even yourself. Studies on gratefulness have shown upswings in athletes self-esteem—which is key for performance, and another showed a reduction in participants comparing themselves to other people.

Thanks for a good night’s sleep

A study from 2011 showed that the act of writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes before bed can help you sleep better and longer. (If sleep is a struggle for you, check out our advice on the key vitamins you need for better shuteye.)

Thanks for more mates

Minding your p's and q’s—well, especially q’s, is not only the right thing to do according to your mum, but also makes you more likeable to prospective friends, according to this study . Loneliness is rife right now , so if a simple thank you email, or acknowledgement to the guy that held open the door for you is a potential for new connections, we’re all in.

Thanks for a healthy body

Walking , as we know, is great for getting our creative juices flowing, and grateful people are more likely to take care of their bodies, exercise more, and feel fewer aches and pains. So, gratefulness = more movement, and more movement = more creativity. Win, win.

Thanks for building resilience

Gratitude not only reduces tension but can also help us to get over trauma. Resilience is a complicated thing ( we broke it down here ), but taking note of all you have to be thankful for, even in the toughest times, can help you to build it. In this study on Vietnam War veterans, they found that higher levels of gratitude correlated with lower rates of PTSD.

What’s being grateful anyway?

Being grateful is, habit-wise, one of the easier ones to get into. It takes less than 15 minutes and has pretty much zero set-up costs. Every evening in a notebook, or using an app like this one, write down three things you’re grateful for.

It doesn’t need to be from that day, and it can be anything from the smell of freshly cut grass, to what you had for dinner— anything that makes you feel thankful. If you want to be a pro at this, you can even try to get specific about why you’re grateful for that particular thing, but start with a simple thanks, and reap the benefits from there.

For more brain-healthy habits, try this beginner's guide to meditation.

About the author:
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Dan Murray-Serter

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