With Thanksgiving just around the corner, most of us are saving our expressions of gratitude for the holiday. But according to scientists, counting your blessings year-round can be good for your mental health and well-being, ultimately boosting your chances of success.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is most often defined as the appreciation of things that are valuable or meaningful to you, according to Harvard Medical School.
Taking the time to be thankful and appreciative for things you have received, tangible or intangible, makes you feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improves your health, helps you deal with adversity and builds strong relationships — all crucial traits both in and out of the workplace.
Numerous studies back up these claims. A 2012 study examined the effects of Thanksgiving on well-being over a three-week period with a sample of 172 undergraduate students. Research participants reported higher levels of positive emotions on the Thanksgiving holiday than on other days of the study.
Researchers took a deeper dive into what differentiated those who felt positive emotions on Thanksgiving from those who didn't. Scientists found that participants who expressed gratitude and thankfulness on that day were more likely to feel positive emotions on Thanksgiving and increased "life satisfaction" on the following days.
In another study, researchers examined how counting your blessings impacts overall well-being. Participants were divided into three groups: One group was asked to journal about negative events or hassles, a second group about the things for which they were grateful and a third group about neutral life events.
The sample that journaled their gratitude showed much higher levels of well-being across the board in comparison with the other two study groups. The major takeaway, according to researchers, was that a conscious focus on blessings may have major emotional and interpersonal benefits.