National Gratitude Month
By Sharon Schweitzer
In the words of the famous Roman orator and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero:
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the mother of all the others.”.
The ancients knew about gratitude. We know about gratitude today, too. It’s one of the first big lessons we learn when we’re kids. Our parents tell us to be grateful for what we have. They tell us to be grateful for our friends and our extended family. When we complain about small things, they remind us to appreciate the big things. We learn to appreciate the fact we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, a school where we learn, and people to share the ups and downs of life with.
Everything in our lives has the ability to improve when we are grateful. Research has shown that gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress, and drastically improve our overall level of health and wellbeing. On average, grateful people tend to have fewer stress-related illnesses and experience less depression and lowered blood pressure, they are more physically fit, they are happier, have a higher income, more satisfying personal and professional relationships, and will be better liked. Grateful kids are even more likely to get A’s in school.
According to Robert Emmons (University of California, Davis) and Michael McCullough (University of Miami), as well as his colleagues the data on gratitude shows that it benefits people in three primary ways: physical, psychological, and social.
Compared to people who don’t practice gratitude, people who practice gratitude report the following physical benefits:
- They exercise more and take better care of themselves
- Their immune systems are stronger
- They have lower blood pressure
- They sleep longer and better
- They’re less bothered by aches and pains
Compared to people who don’t practice gratitude, people who practice gratitude report the following psychological benefits:
- They experience more optimism and happiness
- They experience more joy and pleasure
- They’re more alert, alive, and awake
- They have higher levels of positive emotion, in general
Compared to people who don’t practice gratitude, people who practice gratitude report the following social benefits:
- They feel less lonely
- They’re more forgiving
- They’re more outgoing
- They feel more generous, helpful, and compassionate
So our brains are wired to promote positive responses when we practice gratitude, resulting in better relationships, sleep, health, mood, resilience, happiness, and satisfaction at work and school. With consistent thankfulness, we decrease stress, anxiety, depression and are faster at recovering from trauma. And it’s as easy as jotting down a thought or two a day about what you are grateful for on paper, telling people in your life why you appreciate them, and/or focusing on the positive in situations throughout your day.
Photo by www.nationaldaycalendar.com
Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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