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What Are the Benefits of Gratitude?

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC

Gratitude has gone viral. It’s easy to find books, journals, podcasts, and social media posts about gratitude. There is a reason for this popularity, as gratitude may have a positive impact upon your mental health as gratitude benefits your relationships, physical health, and career.

Gratitude could strengthen your relationships

Your relationships can have a strong positive impact on your mental health, and practicing gratitude can strengthen those relationships. Also, Fredrickson, & Gable (2103) reported that expressing gratitude to your significant others improves the quality of these close relationships. Gratitude requires a level of vulnerability that can strengthen a relationship. Those who express gratitude to their friends have a more positive perception of these relationships and tend to be more able to work through conflicts with their friends (Lambert & Fincham, 2011). In fact, those who experience gratitude have a larger social support network (Amin, 2014).

You can practice gratitude in order to strengthen your relationships by trying these methods:

  • Identify aspects of your relationships of which you are grateful. You can create a comprehensive list or identify one thing every day. 
  • Express gratitude to your friends or significant others however you feel the most comfortable. You can try telling them, putting it in writing, creating a piece of art, or expressing physical affection in order to communicate your gratitude.  

Beautiful young african american woman smiling with sunflower in her hairGratitude may promote your physical health 

The mind-body connection is strong. As a result, your physical health has a direct impact upon your mental health, and vice versa. There is evidence that suggests that the more grateful a person is, the more likely they will have better psychological and physical health (Hill, Allemand, & Roberts, 2013). A study found that people who practice gratitude at least once a week experienced a decrease in blood pressure (Shipon, 1977). An additional study shows that participants who practiced gratitude for 11 weeks were more likely to engage in exercise than those in the study who did not practice gratitude. (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

You can utilize gratitude to promote your physical health by trying these methods:

  • Each day, identify or reflect upon 1-5 things in your life for which you feel grateful. 
  • If you’d like to increase your motivation to exercise, try daily gratitude for 11 continuous weeks. 

Gratitude could support your career 

If you can’t find purpose in your career, gratitude could help. Gratitude can be a factor in helping you to find meaning in your career (Dik, Duffy, Allan, O’Donnell, Shim, & Steger, 2015). Let’s say you experience purpose in your career, but you’re instead struggling with career stress, which negatively impacts your mood. A study of hospital staff found that those who participated in a gratitude group reported less depressive and stress symptoms (Cheng, Tsui, & Lam, 2015). If you supervise employees, expressing respect and gratitude to your new employees can help them to feel welcomed and valued as they may not receive this support from their peers in the beginning. 

You can utilize gratitude to support your career by trying these methods:

  • Express gratitude to your employees and/or colleagues in the workplace. Try to focus on specific examples when expressing gratitude as opposed to generalizations. 
  • Each workday, identify one aspect of your career/job that you are grateful for. Give yourself permission to identify anything –  big or small –  such as your paycheck, location,  flexibility, coworkers, or the structured schedule that your job provides. 

We often hear how gratitude positively impacts mental health. Yet, gratitude also positively impacts your physical health, relationships, and career. Try practicing gratitude and see if it has a positive impact on you. 

Ackerman, C. (2021). 28 Benefits of Gratitude & Most Significant Research Findings. Positive Psychology.com. Blog Post. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions

Algoe SB, Fredrickson BL, Gable SL. (2013). The social functions of the emotion of gratitude via expression. Emotion. 13(4):605-9. 

Amin A. Lively Infrastructure. Theory, Culture & Society. 2014;31(7-8):137-161.

Cheng ST, Tsui PK, Lam JH. (2014). Improving mental health in health care practitioners: a randomized controlled trial of a gratitude intervention. J Consult Clin Psychol. ;83(1):177-86. 

Dik BJ, Duffy RD, Allan BA, O’Donnell MB, Shim Y, Steger MF. (2105). Purpose and Meaning in Career Development Applications. The Counseling Psychologist. 43(4):558-585. 

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389. 

Hill, P. L., Allemand, M., & Roberts, B. W. (2013). Examining the Pathways between Gratitude and Self-Rated Physical Health across Adulthood. Personality and individual differences54(1), 92–96. 

Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2011). Expressing gratitude to a partner leads to more relationship maintenance behavior. Emotion, 11(1), 52–60.

Shipon, R. W. (2007). Gratitude: Effect on perspectives and blood pressure of inner-city African-American hypertensive patients. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 68(3-B), 1977.

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