Whether that’s the birth of christ or some other religious meaning, all of us can agree that today – Christmas day – is a day to practice gratitude for many people. Gratitude for life, for being loved, for being around people that we care about and for sharing this moment with people.
While that might not always be the case this year – due to the influx of flight cancellations – family members living and passed are still kept in our minds on this day in particular. But getting back to gratitude that’s always been an underlying theme for the holidays – whether that’s through film or how people behave around this season.
To the self-improvement industry, gratitude is something not just celebrated around Christmas, but rather all the time. There are several articles out there – like this one – outlining the various benefits that showing gratitude in your life can bring all kinds of benefits.
For this particular list though, I want to be offering some more unique perspectives as my perspective on gratitude is a bit different. I feel that a lot of self-help gurus lean into this too much and use it to deny certain emotions or brush away certain facts. People who have lost loved ones around the holiday season are a good example.
So here are some other benefits to gratitude that you might not have realized.
1. It Helps Prevent Suicidal Thoughts And Attempts
A study on the effects of gratitude on people with depression, coping, and suicide found gratitude can serve as a protective factor. Think of it as a sort of reminder that there are people around you to live for and give you meaning and happiness.
This is particularly helpful around this time of year as again people suffer a lot from depression around this time of year.
2. Practice Gratitude Improves Connections
There was a study in 2013 that showed the benefits of expressing gratitude in enhancing romantic relationships. However, I would extend this to any kind of relationship as well. When you show gratitude, it makes people feel appreciated and good which comes back to improving the relationship.
Beyond that, when you’re expressing gratitude, there are higher chances for you and them to work through problems and concerns.
3. Gratitude Blocks Off Hedonic Adaptation
One of the underlying reasons for why gratitude can have a negative connotation to it is because of this particular phenomenon.
Hedonic adaptation is the term given when our minds get used to a certain kind of positive stimulus. When we’re used to happy and good things always happening to us, the amount of gratitude we have to show for that can slowly begin to be undermined.
Another way to think about it is when you first start dating or you got married, there is a sudden spike of happiness in those moments. However after some time and the “honeymoon phase” ends, you have to find ways to keep being excited about your partner.
Gratitude can help with that as it typically prompts us to find various reasons beyond the surface to be happy about something. That said, not every self-help guru tells you that. They simply say practicing gratitude and generally being thankful for things is the way to go.
4. Practice Gratitude Carves Out Our Personality More
Anyone can put together a gratitude journal and be thankful for the same 3 or 5 things every single day. The problem with that strategy is that it’s not always effective in stirring any kind of emotion. I should know as I tried that before.
To really make the most of gratitude, you need to go beyond what a lot of self-help gurus tell you because it’s there where you start to see more potential.
This particular benefit is one of those things as research shows it can influence your personality. I agree with this because gratitude presents an opportunity for you to figure out exactly what you value in your life. This is on top of a whole host of other benefits like:
- More optimism
- More respect
- Better decision making
- And many others
All of these things affect our personality in various ways. But on a base level, understanding what you value in life can give your life direction in where to focus on your life if you feel lost.
5. Gratitude Makes Memories Happier
Whether we’re making memories or thinking back to them, I’m of the mind that memories are flexible. We can alter how we view them and that in turn affects how we interpret them and how they affect us moving forward.
When you look at gratitude, it can present things in a different way or at the very least help us look at the more positive memories in a further positive light. In a sense, we’re able to condition ourselves to look at events in a whole new light whenever we like if we want to.
6. Less Materialistic
One thing that I stress to my parents every year is that whenever I put a list together I tell them they don’t need to get everything on the list. The reason being is that I value the time spent with them over the various gifts they get me.
It’s ironic during this time of year since consumerism is shoved down our throats so much. However practicing gratitude outside of the holiday season can help us all get to that point. A point where we don’t always have to worry about getting a lot of gifts and that what we do manage to get is enough.
7. Practice Gratitude Increases How Often You Workout – And More
I’m one to talk as I’m currently out of shape, but personally there is still that desire and I know I can bounce back quickly. Overall, gratitude instills the idea of being grateful for yourself and this in turn enhances various forms of self-care.
If you practice gratitude often enough, you can find it easier to begin caring about eating better, working out more, or being more invested in things that you know will enhance your life beyond health.
Practice Gratitude And See For Yourself
Unlike so many self-help gurus out there, gratitude in my mind shouldn’t be used to deny emotions or think that your situation is better than others. Our lives have different trajectories and I think that gratitude – when used properly – can serve as an anchor point for ourselves. It can be a reminder of the things we do have and what we are striving for. It’s a solid source of motivation. We’re able to keep it real when we practice gratitude. This I feel is most important and you’ll be able to see that for yourself when you practice it here and there.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon