We live in amazing times.
The fact that you’re reading this article right now is significant for a few reasons, each of them just as astounding as the last:
- It means both of your parents survived long enough to procreate and raise you into an autonomous adult (the chances of which were 400 trillion to one).
- It means you have access to a computer with an internet connection (a privilege enjoyed by less than 45% of the population)
- It means you live in a country where you have access to effective healthcare that has prevented you from dying at the hand of: yellow fever, polio, and smallpox (diseases that once ravaged entire populations).
- It means you live in a country that grants you access to clean drinking water, social support systems, and (likely) the opportunity for personal and economic advancement.
It also means that, statistically speaking, you live in safer, easier, and more comfortable times than 90% of the human beings who have ever existed.
But despite all of this, people are less happy today than ever before.
Negativity and fear permeate every area of our politics, media, and life. Depression and anxiety run rampant. Suicide rates are on the rise.
Everywhere we look, despite life getting better and better; people seem to be getting more and more miserable.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What I’m about to share with you – although it’s no panacea – is the hard science illustrating how a simple daily exercise (that requires only five minutes, a pen, and a piece of paper) can transform your life forever and make you happier, more fulfilled, and more successful.
Then let’s dive in…
Note: None of the information I am about to share with you is my own opinion or anecdotal evidence. It’s based on more than 26 scholarly and peer-reviewed studies on gratitude that have been compiled over several decades. If you want to learn more about the science behind this article, you can click here to check out some of the studies.
1. Gratitude Increases Your Baseline Happiness (a LOT) … For Life
How much happier do you think you would be – according to objective measurements of your brain chemistry – if you received a call from your employer or biggest client and discovered that your income had doubled overnight?
According to some of the latest research in the realm of neuroscience, the answer is 10%.
Now here’s the crazy part…
That’s the exact boost in happiness you’ll experience by adopting a 5-minute daily gratitude practice.
Just think about that for a second.
By investing less than 5-minutes a day in yourself and your mental well being, you can experience an increase in your baseline happiness that would otherwise require intensely focused effort over a period of 6-12 months (although Craig can definitely help you add an extra 10% by doubling your income too!)
But the benefits don’t stop there.
Researchers found that, after several months of following a consistent gratitude practice, this increase in your baseline happiness will stay with you even if you discontinue the practice over the long term.
That seems like a pretty sound investment to me.
2. Gratitude Will Make People Like You More
Have you ever been to a party or event where you sat silently in a corner; your feelings of social anxiety and discomfort making you unable to connect with the people around you?
While there are many possible reasons for your apparent social “awkwardness”, a recent study that analyzed more than 243 people from different backgrounds indicates that the root cause of your social angst might be that you aren’t grateful enough.
According to the study I mentioned above, people who are just 10% more grateful than their peers experience a 17.5% increase in their perceived social capital.
When you think about it, this finding isn’t particularly surprising.
Most people spend their days in an endless loop of negativity complaining about everything from the traffic to the weather to their boss.
By shifting your mindset and adopting a more grateful frame, you will change the way in which you interact with others, becoming a source of fun, positivity, and joy… All of which are attractive and admirable qualities to possess.
If you’ve found yourself struggling in social situations, then I want to challenge you to commit to 90 days of no complaining and daily gratitude.
You might be surprised to find that it’s the remedy you’ve been searching for.
3. Gratitude Can Help You Break Negative Habits and Cycles in Your Life
According to Susan Pierce Thompson, a cognitive scientist who specializes in the psychology of eating, “Gratitude replenishes willpower”.
We now know that willpower is not an infinite resource.
Throughout the course of any given day, we have countless interruptions and decisions that drain our willpower and make it easier for us to succumb to our greatest weaknesses whether it’s overeating, social media, cigarettes, or alcohol.
By regularly practicing gratitude, especially during times of high stress and tension, you are literally depositing a proverbial check into your willpower bank and increasing your capacity to act in accordance with your personal rules.
Although I don’t have the audacity to claim that gratitude is a “cure all” for your respective vices and addictions, I will say that it’s a powerful weapon in your arsenal.
If you are willing to make gratitude a habit and deploy it during the times where you feel the least grateful, I can promise you that you will see a fundamental shift in your mindset, behavior, and addictive tendencies.
4. Gratitude Can Improve Your Sleep and Reduce Insomnia
If you’ve been reading any of the content that I’ve published on Early to Rise, then you undoubtedly know that we are HUGE proponents of proper sleep hygiene.
Heck, one of Craig’s most powerful teachings is the 10-3-2-1-0 formula for improved sleep (check that out here if you aren’t familiar with it).
In my own life, I’ve found that when I sleep well, I’m more focused, caring and effective throughout my day to day life and interactions.
Most researchers involved with the study assume that this happens because your brain is focused on positive thoughts and feelings before bed instead of mulling over problems and their potential solutions.
Whatever the reason might be, grab a pen and a notepad and spend five minutes writing a gratitude journal each night.
It might just cure your insomnia and change your life.
5. Gratitude Can Improve the Quality of Your Romantic Relationships
If you and your partner are going through a rough patch, I want you to consider – even if it’s only for a moment – that the solution to your problems might not be to fix one another, but rather to appreciate one another.
Several studies have shown a strong correlation between a couple’s expression of gratitude and their overall happiness.
According to the research, creating and sharing some sort of gratitude practice in your relationship or marriage can help to increase the ratio of positive to negative interactions in that relationships, also known as the ‘Losada Ratio‘.
Several other studies have shown a strong correlation between the numbers in this ratio and the longevity of a given relationship.
The bottom line is this: If you want your relationship to last make gratitude a daily ritual with your partner.
6. Gratitude Can Increase Your Energy Levels and Overall Motivation
Forget the coffee.
If you want to experience a rapid and lasting increase in your energy, motivation, and drive to ‘get isht done’, then you need more gratitude, not more caffeine.
According to countless studies, the regular practice of journaling things for which you are grateful can lead to a marked increase in your energy and motivation.
Which of course, equates to more long term success.
It’s important to note that you can’t keep a regular journal about your day and expect to achieve these same results.
Emmons’s gratitude-journal studies compared a control group of individuals who kept a daily dairy against a group who specifically focused their writing on the things for which they were most grateful.
The difference in the self-reported energy and motivation levels was staggering.
In a study of more than 1668 individual, researchers found a 38% positive correlation between overall vitality and gratitude.
For those of you who aren’t statisticians, this a HUGE correlation and one that is not easily disprovable.
If you’ve found yourself in a lethargic slump, try spicing up your mornings with a daily gratitude journal.
You might be surprised by the effects.
7. Gratitude Can Improve the Success of Your Career
After pouring over several studies, I was surprised to find that gratitude has a tremendous and wide-reaching effect on your career.
Managers who practice gratitude have been statistically shown to be more effective at handling their subordinates, employees who practice gratitude have been shown to have higher levels of career satisfaction, and several studies indicated that grateful individuals are significantly more likely to achieve their goals than their negative peers.
And if that wasn’t enough, gratitude has also been shown to have a strong correlation with improved decision making and increased levels of productivity.
So think twice before you complain about your boss and try to find something to be grateful for instead.
You can send me a thank you letter when you get that big raise you’ve been waiting for all these years.
You shouldn’t be here right now.
For all intents and purposes, the odds of your existence are so incredibly and dismally slim that there’s simply no way, according to statistics, that you should be alive.
But you are.
You’re alive and you are here, reading this article.
And that simple fact should overwhelm you with gratitude.
Life is short and we don’t have any guarantees about what happens when we die, so why in the world would you waste one precious second of your life with negativity and why would you relegate gratitude to a single day of the year?
You shouldn’t and you can’t.
So be grateful for what you have. Count your blessings, not your burdens. And realize that no matter how much things suck right now, you have a lot to be grateful for.
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