Thanksgiving is the perfect time for coming together with family and community to count blessings and reflect on everything that we hold dear. Gratitude not only feels wonderful, it also carries a host of scientifically proven benefits for your health and well-being. When you cultivate an attitude of gratitude all year round, you’ll have a powerful and free tool to make your life and the world around you a better place.

People can express gratitude in a number of ways – from taking time around the family dinner table to express thankfulness for tangible rewards and intangible feelings of well being  – to silent prayer or meditation.

However it’s done, cultivating gratitude carries these benefits:

  1. Gratitude leads to better sleep. If you’re one of the one in three American adults not getting enough sleep, try spending 15 minutes before bed writing down what you are thankful for. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being showed that participants who did this slept better and longer.
  2. Gratitude improves health. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people report better overall health and are more likely to maintain that good health with regular exercise and medical checkups.
  3. Gratitude makes you happier. Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami have found that people who practice gratitude report a higher level of happiness than those who do not.
  4. Gratitude can improve relationships. One study of couples found that people who took the time to express gratitude for their partner had more positive feelings toward the other person and were more easily able to express issues with the relationship. The simple task of writing thank you notes to co-workers and neighbors acknowledging contributions makes people feel valued and happier to help to help later on.
  5. Gratitude can boost self-esteem. We all know that comparing ourselves to others is a surefire way to go into a funk. Studies have shown that grateful people are better able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments, and have more pride in their own lives.

What are you grateful for?

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