Are you a thankful person?
Do you have a habit of saying “thank you” for the good things you get in life, big and small?
And do you see your trials and challenges NOT as setbacks and roadblocks, but as stepping stones for growth and achievement?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, then this article is for you. Here are five of the most profound ways gratitude can help you live a richer, fuller, more meaningful life.
#1: The Health Benefits of Gratitude
Numerous studies have shown a link between an “attitude of gratitude” and good health. Here are some of them you might find interesting:
• Better sleep. Studies have shown that writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes every evening improves your mood and lowers stress before bedtime, which allows you to have deeper, more restful sleep, and wake up more refreshed.
• Pain relief. Admittedly, it’s hard to feel thankful when you’re in pain—yet the simple habit of writing in a journal helps chronic pain sufferers feel less pain, approach life with more optimism, and enjoy more productive, rewarding days.
• Disease prevention. There are more than a hundred studies (and growing) that prove a strong link between positive emotions and the prevention of potentially debilitating medical conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
Isn’t it great that a simple 5-15 minute daily habit of writing down what you’re thankful for could help you sleep better, feel less pain, get more done each day, and add healthy years to your life?
#2: How Being Thankful Strengthens Your Relationships
There’s a wise old saying that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” While it’s unclear who said it first, it’s pretty clear what it means: if you really want to go far in life and achieve the goals you set for yourself, you’ll need other people.
Keeping strong relationships with people we like is easy. The real challenge is in mending strained and broken relationships, something we’re often too proud to do.
It’s been found that a great many relationships end when one or both parties begin to feel like they’re being taken for granted. It’s also been found that the remedy for these strained relationships is the OPPOSITE of taking something for granted, which is—you guessed it—gratitude.
When people are grateful for the things someone does for them, they tend to keep that relationship going…which in turn, makes the other person ALSO feel appreciated and grateful, and also work hard to keep the relationship going. This upward spiral, set in motion by gratitude, is the stuff that keeps people together, and it can start with you, today.
#3: Gratitude and Career/Business Success
No matter what your career path is, a healthy dose of gratitude can help you get more for your hard work:
• In employment. If you’re employed, keeping track of what you’re thankful for will keep you happy at work, which in turn makes you more productive, more receptive to constructive feedback, and more likely to climb the corporate ladder sooner.
• If you’re a manager, having an attitude of gratitude makes you more effective: you’re more sensitive to the people’s needs, and you’re quicker to give constructive criticism. What’s more, 2 out of 3 American workers regularly report going unrecognized throughout the entire fiscal year—but when you’re a grateful manager, your workers don’t become part of that statistic.
• In entrepreneurship. If you’re an entrepreneur, practicing gratitude will help you network with people, as well as make smarter decisions, two crucial skills to have for any entrepreneur. And in a business climate where most new businesses don’t survive the critical first two years, you’ll need all the help you can get.
Think about it. If 5-15 minutes of writing in a gratitude journal can make you more successful in ANYTHING you do, is there a reason not to do it?
#4: How Gratitude Makes Your Personality Shine
Gratitude helps keep you more grounded and relatable. When you’re grateful, you put people over profits, which means you don’t take other people for granted. As a result, you escape the poisonous materialism that so easily invades men’s lives these days.
What’s more, gratitude has been found to have a link with increased spirituality, which, as you might already know, leads to its own host of benefits. We’re not quite sure which causes which—whether being grateful leads to increased spirituality, or whether spirituality leads to grateful behavior—but the link is there nonetheless, and that’s a good thing.
#5: Gratitude and Emotional Well-Being
When it comes to your emotions, thankfulness has been found to make you more resilient, and perhaps even bounce back stronger than ever after disastrous life events.
Like it or not, no matter how happy you strive to be, a man’s life will always be fraught with emotional challenges. When a loved one dies, or when a business fails, or when your marriage falls into a rough patch, it puts your emotional strength to the test like nothing else.
Strength makes most men take it on the chin, but gratitude is what gives you the extra strength and wisdom to shake it off and hit back. Studies have shown that cultivating an attitude of thankfulness has helped people stave off PTSD.
Grateful individuals are also more likely to rely on other people during times of distress, which is much better than toughing it out by yourself, and as such are much more likely to become stronger once the crisis has passed.
How to Become More Grateful
As the saying goes: “You get more of what you’re thankful for,” so it pays to have a habit that reminds you daily how much you have to be thankful for.
A gratitude journal works wonders for just that. This simple 5-15 minute ritual done every day, especially before bedtime, will bless all areas of your life, making you a much stronger, happier, more contented man.
Here’s how to start your own gratitude journal habit:
• Use a notebook for your journal entries. (You can also use your computer if you want, but screen time this close to bed might interfere with sleep.)
• Each night before bedtime. Write down three things you’re thankful for. They could be people, or things, or events, or conversations, or situations, and so on—even if you’re just a little thankful for them—they’re good enough for your journal. Every evening, try to think of three new things to be thankful for, and write them down.
• Every morning. Take note of the improvements you see in your life: the better mood, the boost in energy, the drop in stress, and so on. Allow yourself to enjoy these feelings as they come, and yes…be thankful for them, too.
• Keep writing in your gratitude journal for 5-15 minutes each night. This is part of your “winding down” routine. Most men report significant improvements in their quality of lives after 3-4 weeks of journaling, and TREMENDOUS improvements after six months.
Don’t rob yourself of those benefits. Start a gratitude journal tonight—it’s going to bless your life in so many ways.
Previously published on Goodmenproject.com