Psychtests: The Power Of Gratitude
The many psychological, social and physical benefits of counting your blessings.
It’s one of the simplest things we can do to improve our well-being, yet most of us don’t practice it often enough: gratitude. Research has shown that grateful people have happier relationships, experience more positive emotions, sleep better and, interestingly, have fewer headaches and digestive problems. A study by researchers at PsychTests also indicates that practicing gratitude increases stress resistance, inspires a healthier lifestyle and simply makes people happier.
• Analyzing data collected from 1,456 people who took the Hardiness Test, PsychTests’ researchers compared two distinct groups of people:
• Those who regularly practice gratitude (here called the “Thankful” group); and
• Those who don’t (here called the “Unthankful” group).
Here’s where these two groups differed:
• 83% of the Thankful group said that they love themselves just as they are (as compared to 25% of the Unthankful group).
• 81% feel they contribute something important to the lives of their family, to society or to the world in general (as compared to 30% of the Unthankful group). • 74% have high self-confidence (as compared to 23% of the Unthankful group).
• 71% push themselves to overcome their fears (as compared to 20% of the Unthankful group).
• 81% face problems directly rather than trying to avoid them (as compared to 41% of the Unthankful group). • 77% believe that all obstacles are temporary (as compared to 29% of the Unthankful group).
• 89% view hardship and adversity as opportunities to grow wiser and stronger (as compared to 46% of the Unthankful group).
• 84% are able to find the silver lining in negative situations (as compared to 29% of the Unthankful group).
• 63% eat a mostly healthy diet (as compared to 29% of the Unthankful group).
• 53% exercise at least three times a week (as compared to 26% of the Unthankful group).
In contrast, people who don’t practice gratitude struggle with several mental health issues as well as physical ailments. For example:
• 61% of the Unthankful group said that they feel helpless to change or improve their lives (as compared to 14% of the Thankful group).
• 82% harshly criticize or insult themselves on a regular basis (as compared to 34% of the Thankful group).
• 46% have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder (as compared to 24% of the Thankful group).
• 61% have suicidal thoughts or intentions (as compared to 20% of the Thankful group).
• 39% have taken two or more sick days in the last year due to illness (as compared to 32% of the Thankful group).
• 39% have taken two or more sick days in the last year due to stress (as compared to 18% of the Thankful group).
“PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE ARE NOT JUST TOUGHER IN THE FACE OF STRESS; THEY ALSO GET THROUGH IT WITH THEIR SANITY AND WELL-BEING INTACT. THAT SAYS A LOT.”
“It’s a challenge to practice gratitude when you’re going through a really difficult time, and it’s annoying to hear people tell you that you should count your blessings when you feel like your life is in total chaos. Trying to be more thankful in those circumstances seems fake, trivial and absolutely ludicrous,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Gratitude feels like something only rich people with an easy life do. However, it’s when you’re going through a tough time that its true power takes effect. Research has shown that the impact of a grateful attitude on well-being is unquestionable. It helps you manage stress more effectively and improves your mood, which, in turn, can enhance your physical health. The added bonus is that when you focus your mind on your blessings, it helps lessen the strain of what is going wrong, at least a little.”
“When you think of people who practice gratitude, an image of a bunch of carefree, tree- hugging hippies might come to mind. Our study has shown, however, that this isn’t the least bit true. Our grateful group scored significantly higher on resilience, self-esteem, perseverance, emotional control and courage. They also have other stress- management techniques in their repertoire, including meditation, exercise, visualization and mindfulness. People who have an attitude of gratitude are not just tougher in the face of stress; they also get through it with their sanity and well- being intact. That says a lot. And it doesn’t take much time or effort to practice gratitude; clearly, it’s worth it.”
Aside from practicing gratitude, the PsychTests team offers some tips on how to boost mental toughness:
• At the end of each day, create a list of all the things you are grateful for, no matter how minor they may seem, such as receiving praise from a customer, making significant progress on a project, finding your favourite snack at the store or having an altogether great day.
• Look for the opportunity within each problem. Ask yourself the following questions: “What will I gain by going through this hardship? How will this make me better?” “Do I need to be doing more of something or less of something?” Recapture your power to choose. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel helpless, hopeless or stuck, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions: “How would I like things to proceed?” “What are my options?” “What steps can I take to improve this situation, even just a little?”
Change your physical perspective. If you find yourself stuck in a negative frame of mind, take a walk outside. Find a place that is calming and cheerful: a garden, a waterfall, a park, etc. A temporary distraction can change the trajectory of your thoughts.