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How Expressing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, meaning it’s time to start thinking about everything we’re grateful for. There’s a lot to be thankful for, from our families and friends to our homes and jobs.

The holidays are when traditions and memories come together in one joyful celebration. It’s also a season when we often feel an uptick in stress and anxiety as we worry about finding the perfect gift for everyone on our list, booking travel at peak prices, and trying to finalize plans with friends and family scattered around the country.

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The pressures of the season can make us feel anything but grateful. But this year, we’re challenging you to find ways to be more thankful during this hectic time. Why? Because there are overwhelming benefits to being thankful.

Studies show that being grateful positively affects your physical health, mental well-being, personal relationships, and even career success. Recognizing these benefits is why we’ve compiled this list of how expressing gratitude this Thanksgiving can make you happier.

Physical Health Benefits of Being Grateful

Numerous studies show how gratitude can positively impact your physical health. Most notably, gratitude journal studies show that writing down three things you’re grateful for each day can reduce blood pressure and lower stress hormones.

Research also shows that gratitude impacts our immune system. It’s been shown to increase the number of T-cells in our bodies, which fight off infections and disease.

Expressing gratitude can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve sleep quality. Studies show that grateful people are less likely to experience short and long-term sleep disturbances.

Sleep disturbances can lead to other health issues, so gratitude’s positive effect on sleep quality is a huge benefit.

A Sense of Well-Being

There are many ways gratitude boosts happiness, but one of the most impactful is how it increases our sense of well-being.

Grateful people generally have a more positive outlook on life. They are also more resilient and adaptable, which means they’re better able to cope with stressful situations.

Being grateful can also boost your feelings of well-being. A gratitude journal study found that participants’ feelings of well-being increased with the number of things they were thankful for. So why does gratitude boost feelings of well-being?

The Journal of Health Psychology suggests that gratitude can expand your social network. Another study suggests that gratitude increases your sense of self-worth and self-esteem, which can also boost your well-being.

Your physical well-being isn’t the only thing that improves when you express gratitude. There are also cognitive benefits.

Better Sleep

Studies show that gratitude can improve your sleep quality. And with better sleep comes many health benefits, including a higher quality of life for you and those around you. It’s been shown that improved sleep reduces blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.

Better sleep can also boost your immune system and improve your mental health. It can help you feel less stressed and more positive, which can significantly improve your quality of life. Improved sleep can even help you lose weight.

Mental Well-being Benefits of Being Grateful

Gratitude and happiness can also improve your mental health. There are several ways gratitude can boost mental health. A gratitude journal study found that participants who wrote down things they were grateful for had lower levels of depression and negative emotions.

The same study also found that participants had fewer depressive thoughts. Additionally, gratitude can help you overcome negative experiences. When you’ve gone through something difficult, gratitude can help you process that experience and put it behind you.

Feeling Less Stress and Anxiety

There are many benefits to gratitude regarding reduced stress and anxiety. Positive feelings of gratitude can counteract the adverse effects of stress. Additionally, gratitude has been shown to reduce rumination, a risk factor for depression.

When we’re grateful, we feel less stress and anxiety because we don’t dwell on things that cause us to worry. Studies show that people who write down three things they’re grateful for each day have lower levels of stress and anxiety.

This is likely because they’re not focusing on their stressors. Gratitude can help us cope with our stressors better. When we cope better with our stress, we experience less anxiety and feel better mentally and physically.

Higher Self-Esteem and Confidence

A gratitude journal study found that participants who were grateful for their lives had higher self-esteem and confidence than participants who weren’t appreciative. The same research suggests that the gratitude journal method can help people build resilience to negative experiences.

So, not only does gratitude help lower your stress and anxiety, but it can also help you build confidence over time.

Hope and Optimism

Gratitude can also boost your feelings of hope and optimism. This can help you stay positive during difficult times. The gratitude journal study found that participants who wrote down things they were grateful for reported higher levels of hope than those who didn’t journal gratitude.

Another study shows that grateful thinking helps us realize that good things are happening in our lives. This can help us recognize the positive things we have and keep us optimistic in the face of challenges.

Personal Relationships Benefits of Being Grateful

Gratitude can have benefits for all of your relationships, whether they be romantic, friendly, or professional. The gratitude journal study found that when participants wrote down three things they were grateful for and then shared those thoughts with a friend, they felt closer to their friends.

The study suggests that people feel closer to us when we express gratitude to others. This can help strengthen our relationships. Plus, being grateful can help you be a better friend and partner.

When you’re grateful, you’re more likely to put positive energy into your relationships. This can help strengthen your friendships and make your relationships even stronger.

Career Success Benefits of Being Grateful

Gratitude can have benefits for your career, too. One study found that participants who were grateful for their careers had higher job satisfaction than those who weren’t appreciative. A different study suggests that gratitude can help us be more resilient during difficult times at work.

This can help us stay optimistic through challenging times, which can help us get through them faster and come out better on the other side.

Ways You Can Start Expressing More Gratitude

According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, expressing gratitude can benefit our mental health and well-being. The study found that participants who wrote about what they were grateful for every week experienced increased happiness and satisfaction with their lives compared to those who did not express gratitude.

There are many ways you can start expressing more gratitude in your life.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

A straightforward way is to keep a gratitude journal. Each day, take a few minutes to write down three things you’re grateful for. This could be anything from your morning cup of coffee to a meaningful conversation with a friend.

Practice gratitude writing through a simple daily or weekly gratitude journal. In your journal, write down three things you’re grateful for each day.

Cultivate Gratitude Through Mindfulness

Another way to express gratitude is to cultivate it through mindfulness. This means being present and savoring the good things that happen instead of letting them pass by without truly appreciating them.

For example, take a few moments to savor the flavors and aromas next time you’re enjoying a delicious meal. Or, if you’re out for a walk in nature, take time to notice the beauty around you.

Life satisfaction in these ways doesn’t just happen; it takes effort to create.

Show It Through Your Actions

Another way to express gratitude is to show it through your actions. If someone does something nice for you, take the time to thank them. And if you see someone struggling, offer a helping hand.

Positive emotions are contagious, so expressing gratitude and spreading positivity can also make those around you happier. More positive emotions will also lead to more motivation, productivity, and creativity.

Write a Letter

If you want to express gratitude to someone who has positively impacted your life, consider writing them a letter. In the letter, explain how they’ve helped you and how much their support meant to you. This is a thoughtful way to show how grateful you are and can be a cherished gift for the recipient.

Negative feelings will only hold you back, but expressing gratitude can open you up to more positive experiences and opportunities. So don’t forget to take the time to appreciate the good things in your life, no matter how small they may seem.

Say Grateful Words Out Loud

One study found that expressing gratitude aloud – whether to yourself or others – can increase your overall satisfaction with life. So, if you’re grateful, don’t be afraid to say it out loud!

The positive psychology research on gratitude has found that expressing it has many benefits, including increased happiness and satisfaction.


Being grateful can have a significant impact on your life. It can make you healthier, happier, and better at just about everything. However, it’s important to remember that gratitude doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice to cultivate a grateful mindset.

If you’re looking to reap the benefits of gratitude, try making it a part of your daily routine. Make time each day to write down three things you’re grateful for. You can also try journaling gratitude with a friend. And don’t forget to celebrate your gratitude on Thanksgiving Day!

Your mental and physical health can benefit from expressing gratitude. So, if you’re looking for ways to improve your well-being, why not give it a try?

About the Author: Frances Lalu is a contributing writer at New Directions. She specializes in health and wellness, promoting the health of individuals to be healthier and more productive.

Photo by Askar Abayev: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-gray-long-sleeve-shirt-hugging-woman-in-gray-long-sleeve-shirt-5638463/

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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