The benefits of having an attitude of gratitude

December 06, 2023

Our attitude towards life's "WOWs" and challenges can make the difference between feelings of joy and sorrow. Allowing toxic voices to impact our thinking can also impact our health. Positivity matters.

Focusing on promoting an "attitude of gratitude" with clients or employees may feel like a far reach, but it is vital, especially when we are surrounded by so much negativity. Mental wellbeing combined with physical health can help with clearer thinking and better - and more confident - decisions about financial health.

Benefits of gratitude

Having an attitude of gratitude can make a real difference in someone’s life, including yours. Turns out, there are actual studies to back it up. The benefits of living a life of gratitude are far reaching.

1. Reduced anxiety and depression

In general, mindfulness encourages individuals to be mindful of the present moment and to acknowledge and accept one's feelings, allowing them to gain perspective and move on to more wholesome thoughts.

Mindfulness-based practices have been used as treatment for those diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Overall, studies show that including mindfulness practices as part of a regimen were effective at reducing the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms.1

2. Better health

A gratitude attitude could help you improve your health. For example, practicing gratitude and other stress reduction techniques may help reduce blood pressure. A shift in attitude may also help you sleep better, experience less pain, and even lose weight.1

3. Improved personal satisfaction

Who doesn’t want to feel more satisfied and content? Rewiring your brain to focus on what you’re grateful for may actually help release pleasure chemicals in your brain. Positive emotions can help activate the reward pathway in the brain that releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps improve motivation. The great news is that your brain naturally wants to reward pleasurable experiences by engaging in them again. That’s right. Gratitude begets more gratitude.2 And doesn’t the world need a little more of that these days?

4. Improved decision-making

Being grateful may not seem like it would help you make better decisions. But when you combine all the benefits of gratitude including reduced stress and better health, sleep and mental clarity, it’s a natural outcome. When we’re stressed about current situations, we’re prone to making irrational decisions that could have long-term consequences.

It may just be that looking on the bright side will help you stay on the right side when making decisions, including those related to retirement planning and finances.

Tips for living a life of gratitude

Gratitude is a choice to focus on something other than the negative circumstances around you. Even when times are tough, there are ways to find even small things to be thankful for. Implement a few of the following tactics throughout your day and see if your outlook on life isn’t a little brighter.

Focus on the future

You can’t change the past and releasing hurts is a first step in living a life of gratitude. Begin looking forward to where you’re going rather than dwelling on where you’ve been.

Move your body, change your mind

It’s well known that exercise releases endorphins to help you feel less stressed. Some health experts suggest taking a walk or enjoying nature while recounting the blessings in your life. But there are many other ways to refocus your mind. Perhaps it’s stretching for five minutes or taking 30 seconds before opening your email inbox in the morning to reflect on what’s right in your world. At the end of the day, insert a couple minutes of positive reflection into your evening routine before going to bed. It might be as simple as taking a few deep breaths while thinking about what you’re thankful for in the day that was and the one to come.

Demonstrate gratitude to others

Gratitude can be an inner feeling of contentment and appreciation. But why keep it inside? Displaying gratitude outwardly can amplify its impact, both in your own life and in the lives of others. Show appreciation for a coworker, family member or friend. Or simply show compassion by helping a stranger, volunteering, asking someone out to lunch or smiling at someone as you pass them on the sidewalk. Your attitude of gratitude might just be the boost they need, and you’ll feel good knowing you’ve brightened someone’s day.

Establish a routine of gratitude

Like many habits, it takes time to make it a daily part of life. Consider scheduling time in your day to practice gratitude until it becomes second nature. Even placing a 15-minute block of time on your calendar each day to send an encouraging note or reflect on the good things in life can help improve your day and possibly make someone else’s day better, too. Some people write in a gratitude journal or use an app or the notes feature on their phone to write down things they’re grateful for. Every small action can make a difference.

It doesn’t take a lot of grand gestures to demonstrate gratitude, to find the "WOWs" that exist all around us, or to feel the benefits of a thankful heart. Consider ways you can practice positivity today and encourage others to do the same.

1 U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need To Know, June 2022.
2 National Library of Medicine, The Synergy Zone: Connecting the Mind, Brain, and Heart for the Ideal Classroom Learning Environment, Sept. 2023.