Winter can cause mixed emotions for a lot of people. Although it can be a season of joy, complicated family relationships and the lack of sun can cause sadness and feelings of being overwhelmed. Research suggests though, that gratitude can help alleviate some of the negativity! According to an article from Harvard, practicing gratitude helps people deal with adversity and improve their health.
Gratitude is being thankful and showing appreciation towards goodness in their lives. It helps people connect with things that are important to them – family, good food, health, nature, or connectedness. People express gratitude in different ways. In Braiding Sweet Grass, Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us to leave a small token when we harvest from a plant like a piece of tobacco or strands of hair. Some other ways are to write thank you notes, keep a gratitude journal, meditate, and to thank someone mentally.
Two psychologists, one from University of California and one from the University of Miami asked research participants to write down a few sentences each week. Each group wrote about things they were grateful for during the week and the other wrote about any events that affected them, negative or positive. After a couple months, they found that the group who practiced gratitude were more optimistic and happier with their lives. This group also were more physically active and took less trips to the doctor.
Expressing appreciation helps relationships, personal and professional. Other studies noted that couples who expressed gratitude towards one another felt more comfortable with each other and felt more positive towards one another. Managers who say “thank you” to employees feel more motivated at work. Obviously being grateful doesn’t solve all the world’s problems, but happiness consists of many small acts towards feeling content. We hope that this season brings you joy!