Every day we say “thank you” to someone.  But what does that “thank you” really mean and how does it benefit us?   For some of us, saying “thank you” is just an automatic response we were taught when we were young.  We say it because it is the polite thing to do.  Saying “thank you” produces a positive result.  It is a state of mind.  

The best definition I could find for gratitude is from the Harvard Medical School.  Gratitude is “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” 

Gratitude is more than an act.  It is an emotion, a feeling when people receive positive benefits in their lives.  My goal this year is to keep a daily gratitude journal, using an app called “Day One.”   I hope that you will want to journal your gratitude each day using a paper and pen, Evernote or some other type of app on your phone.  I want to show you the benefits I have found from my research and reading on gratitude from a variety of resources.

Here are my top five benefits from having an Attitude of Gratitude.  There are so many more, it would take pages to list them all.

Gratitude gives you happiness

We experience happiness from a compliment given to us.  This happiness lasts only a few moments and we are back to our daily work.  Taking 5 minutes a day to journal our gratitude can have a lasting impact on our lives.  The act of journaling and reflecting influences the emotional, personality, social, career and health aspects of our lives.  By journaling our gratitude, we can reduce our stress and increase our positive emotions.

Gratitude can lead to more relationships

Saying “thank you” as you interact with people can build new friendships and relationships with colleagues.  A study in 2014 stated that you influence new acquaintances positively by saying “thank you.”  Being grateful to people allows them to see positive possibilities in relationships.  Gratefulness can come from saying “thank you,” acknowledging a team member’s contributions, or holding a door open for a colleague.

Gratitude improves your health

Grateful people experience fewer physical and emotional health issues than those who don’t practice gratitude.  Grateful people have a tendency to exercise more and eat better.  Gratefulness also reduces the toxic emotions of anger, fear, resentment and many others that can hold you back.  The “three good things” exercise, where you think of three good things or moments that happened that day, improves your overall happiness and health. 

Gratitude can lead to better sleep

Grateful people sleep better on average than those who are not grateful.  This may come from the fact that grateful people are focused on the positive aspects of their lives.  Some researchers have found that doing your daily gratitude journal before going to bed helps soothe the nervous system and gives you a positive focus before falling asleep.

Gratitude increases productivity

Gratitude can lead to an increase in your daily output at home and in the office.  Some studies have shown that people who are grateful do an extra 1.5 hours of exercises each week.  They are more connected and emotionally available for their partner and family.   At work, a simple “thank you” or other appreciation shown by managers or colleagues leads to an increase in productivity.  Showing gratitude creates a positive effect for both the giver and receiver of gratitude.    Simple acts can lead to big things.

Take a moment today and be grateful!  Say someone “thank you”.  Hold the door open for someone.  Send a note of appreciation. 

Make the act of gratitude part of your daily routine!