Giving Thanks, Getting Health: The Science of Gratitude
Gratitude is important. We know gratitude as something you show towards other people to appreciate what they do for you. But (perhaps a little ironically) gratitude is also good for the person giving it.
The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley recently launched a multi-million-dollar, 3-year project called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. The goals of the project are to expand the body of scientific research that explores the effects of gratitude, seeks to apply these findings in medical, educational and other fields using the evidence gained, and finally, to expand the cultural conversation surrounding the concept of gratitude and its importance in society.
Few will argue that gratitude isn’t a good thing, but the UCB research team notes that many people take gratitude for granted, and do not realize the full range of benefits that a consistent practice of gratitude can offer:
1. Stronger immune systems. Saying “thank you” and meaning it has been shown to boost immunity. It also has been seen to reduce blood pressure!
2. Higher levels of joy, contentment, happiness, optimism, and other positive emotions. It may seem like common sense, but recognizing and appreciating the good things in our lives really does make us happier.
3. Fewer feelings of isolation. Gratitude helps people feel more connected to the people around them and reduces feelings of loneliness.
4. Acting more generously or compassionately. It feels good to say “thank you” to others, and makes us more willing to be generous ourselves.
To read more about the growing study of gratitude, click here.