Studies have found that gratitude is significantly beneficial not just on mental health but on a person's well-being as well.
"A large and growing body of studies shows that exercising gratitude leads to better sleep, improved interpersonal relationships, better stress and hormonal regulation, and even reduced physical pains," John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander wrote on Christian Headlines.
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Gratitude Gives More Reasons To Be Thankful
In a study shared by Christian Jarrett, a British psychologist, on The Cut, performing simple gratitude exercises can bring feelings of increased well-being and reduced depression, which linger even after the exercises are completed.
Jarrett explained that gratitude tasks work because of their "self-perpetuating nature," wherein the more it is practiced, the more a person is accustomed to it, and thus, increasing its psychological benefits.
The Indiana University (IU), led by Prathik Kini, has conducted a research on individuals who were undergoing counseling to treat their anxiety and depression.
In the study, half of the participants were given a gratitude task wherein for the first three days of their weekly counseling, they would write a letter for 20 minutes, expressing gratitude to someone. The other half of the group were asked to simply attend their counseling sessions without doing the gratitude task.
Three months after the completion of their counseling, they were tasked to do a "Pay It Forward" gratitude activity, wherein they were "given" money by imaginary benefactors and were told that the latter would want them to donate the monetary gift. Though the activity was just an exercise, a participant was chosen at random to actually receive the money given to him.
The researchers found that as the amount of money given away increases, so does the feeling of gratitude towards the participant.
Further, they also discovered that based on the MRI, the participants who were assigned to do a gratitude task months earlier, exhibited "more gratitude-related brain activity" in the brain.
The result reportedly suggests that the more a person sets his brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mindset.
The psychologist added that gratitude is not only beneficial to the person himself but also to other people he interacts as well. This finding supports the study made by the University of South Wales, reported by Forbes. In the research, the university found that when a person expresses appreciation, it causes a perception on others that they can form a "constructive relationship" with the person.
Studies Prove Gratitude Improves Mental Health for Longer
IU has already conducted the same study in 2016 but with a larger number of participants, grouped into three. In the research, Joshua Brown and Joel Wong shared that among the research participants, those who wrote gratitude letters significantly improved their mental health, months after completing the writing exercise.
Stonestreet and Leander said that in the Book of Psalms, God Himself encourages His people to express gratitude. While the LORD delights in helping His followers of their grief and concerns, He expects them to be grateful as well.
The authors added that in the book, the people of God have "openly" shared their sorrows and despair caused by their enemies. And in overcoming their situations, they opted to remember "the good and faithful work" that God has done in the past.
Further, Stonestreet and Leander declared that gratitude works "because it is a true response of a creature to Creator."
"Gratitude helps us see life clearly, and allows us to live it as God intended, to its fullest," they concluded.