The holidays are here and for a lot of us, that means slowing down, spending time with our loved ones, and looking back to review how far we’ve come.
‘Tis the season to be jolly! And to be jolly, you need to be thankful.
If you’re finding it hard to get into the festive mood or still on the fence about whether you should pull out your notebook and list all the people and all the things that you’re grateful for, here are a few scientific studies to give you a nudge in the right direction.
Gratitude makes you happier
“Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.”
“You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously,” Robbins said, “so if you want to conquer those [negative emotions], maybe it’s time to train your nervous system to go into gratitude more naturally.”
Gratitude helps you sleep better
“Count blessings, not sheep” says Emma Seppälä, a happiness researcher at Stanford and Yale Universities and author of The Happiness Track.
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that:
“Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction. The relationship between gratitude and each of the sleep variables was mediated by more positive pre-sleep cognitions and less negative pre-sleep cognitions. All of the results were independent of the effect of the Big Five personality traits (including neuroticism) and social desirability.”
Gratitude makes you more successful
As opposed to being thankful because of her success, Oprah Winfrey credits her success to her gratitude practice! And she’s not the only one. Arianna Huffington, Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson, and so many other successful entrepreneurs subscribe to this school of thought too.
And it’s not hard to see why; focusing on what you’ve accomplished will keep you more motivated than beating yourself up for your shortcomings. In addition, having this mentality with yourself will allow you to extend it to the people that you interact with regularly, thus fostering a more enthusiastic and efficient team.
“Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”
Gratitude improves your relationships
A study by Sara B. Algoe et al for the National Institute of Mental Health found that:
“Drawing on a social functional model of emotions, we tested the roles of gratitude and indebtedness in romantic relationships with a daily‐experience sampling of both members of cohabiting couples. As hypothesized, the receipt of thoughtful benefits predicted both gratitude and indebtedness. Men had more mixed emotional responses to benefit receipt than women. However, for both men and women, gratitude from interactions predicted increases in relationship connection and satisfaction the following day, for both recipient and benefactor. Although indebtedness may maintain external signals of relationship engagement, gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.”
So instead of beating yourself up for not being able to achieve all the goals you set for yourself at the start of the year, maybe you should focus on all the ones you succeeded at, the lessons you learnt, the relationships that endured, and the unplanned victories too!