10 Ways Gratitude Increases Your Quality of Life
We live in a crazy world.
Perhaps never before have we been so bombarded by stressful situations as we go about our day to day lives.
One of the reasons that drugs are such a problem is that people are looking for ways to cope. The issue is that drugs and other coping mechanisms can be incredibly destructive and, in some cases, deadly.
The cases of depression, anxiety, suicide, and other mental health issues have approached record levels since the pandemic.
With the roller coaster of life there are coping mechanisms that can help you and be healthy at the same time.
Say hello to Gratitude
A gratitude mindset can give you the roadmap to successfully navigate the often-choppy waters of life.
It starts with a basic principle of focusing on and appreciating what you have.
“Gratitude turns what you have into enough”
An attitude of gratitude helps you to completely concentrate on your blessings and abundance.
There are many things that can help us through these trying times. They take effort, but the rewards are many.
When I was younger, I would always ask the same question: “I don’t understand why people don’t take better care of themselves”. You only have one body and one brain, and it would seem to make sense to take care of both.
But for some reason, people abuse their bodies and then they wonder why they don’t feel that good physically and mentally later in life.
For years we have been told to take care of the things that mean something to us. You know, like the family car. Change the oil, rotate the tires, keep it clean and vacuumed, and the car will be around for a long time.
Maybe people just don’t think that far ahead. You know the adage, let’s have fun tonight and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.
Here are 10 Ways Gratitude Increases Your Quality of Life:
1) Physical Health: Surveys have shown that grateful people experience less aches and pains. Grateful people are more likely to take care of their health, exercise more often, and schedule regular check-ups.
Appreciating what we have measurably improves our relationships, our life satisfaction, our health, our sleep, and it improves our physical health leading to fewer aches & pains, lower blood pressure & less depression.
2) Mental Health: Employing a gratitude practice can substantially improve your overall mood and can help a person with challenges such as depression and anxiety.
Gratitude reduces toxic emotions like envy, resentment, frustration, anger, and aggression and enhances positive emotions like empathy, caring, and sympathy.
Science says that the more you choose positive and kind words to describe yourself, your health, your body, and your progress, the less anxiety you will experience.
3) Emotional Health: After applying gratitude to their life, people report a much higher sense of well-being and sense of calm. Too much of our time is spend pursuing things we currently don’t have. Gratitude reverses that and realigns our priorities to appreciate what we currently have.
4) Happiness: Gratitude creates a level of happiness and joy not often found in people dealing with a stressful world. Happiness is rarely constant, so although happiness is a fantastic goal, gratitude for the tools that get you there is more important.
5) Self-Esteem: Research has proven that using a gratitude journal helps people to gain more confidence and fight off the effects of Impostor Syndrome.(See below) We are our own worst critics, and we hold ourselves to impossible standards and we continually compare ourselves to others. The only person we should compare ourselves to, is who we were yesterday.
6) Relationships: Individuals that apply the teaching of a gratitude mindset experience deeper and more fulfilling relationships with family and friends. People who feel good about themselves and their lives are kinder to others.
You are known by the company that you keep.
I think it is a good idea to once a year take the Association Evaluator Assessment, a sort of inventory of your relationships.
Here it is: Think about 0-1-2 people that you should disassociate from, limit your association from, and enhance your association with. The best litmus test is how you feel after having a cup of coffee with that person. You can then reevaluate who you should be hanging out with. It’s hard to stay positive when you are surrounded by negative people.
7) Doctor Visits: People that utilize an attitude of gratitude tend to visit the doctor more regularly which increases your chances of pre-emptively identifying potentially debilitating and destructive diseases.
8) Workplace: Employees that have a grateful approach to work participate in significantly less gossip and negative relationships. A recent study concluded that people that wrote in a gratitude journal, participated in significantly less gossip and other toxic behaviors in the workplace.
9) Longevity: Grateful people enjoy a longer more satisfying and fulfilling life well into the retirement years. It’s been proven that people that have a purpose live 7-10 years longer than people without a purpose.
At the Boeing Company, it was typical for fellow employees to post a retirement notice on the company bulletin board, and an obituary notice for the same person a mere 90 days later.
10) Purpose: Surveys say that people report a greater sense of purpose when looking at their life through the lens of gratitude. How easily we can lose sight of everything we have to be thankful for when the circumstances of life become unpleasant. Individuals that have a purpose live 7-10 years longer than those without a purpose.
Bonus: The Imposter Syndrome
Definition: The persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved because of one's own efforts or skills. “People suffering from impostor syndrome may be at increased risk of anxiety”
To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don't belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck.
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a phony. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.
Imposter syndrome is likely the result of multiple factors, including personality traits and family background. One theory is that imposter syndrome is rooted in families that value achievement above all else.
- The Perfectionist
- The Natural Genius
- The Soloist
- The Expert.
According to research, 70% of the population feels like a fraud. It affects both genders and is found throughout all occupations. What's even more fascinating is imposter syndrome doesn't seem to go away.
Impostor syndrome contributes to psychological distress, continued self-monitoring, increased self-doubt, and persistent fears of failure.
How to Conquer Imposter Syndrome
- Break the silence. Admit the feelings and talk to someone.
- Separate feelings from fact. There are times you’ll feel stupid. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are.
- Recognize when you should feel fraudulent. A sense of belonging fosters confidence. If you’re the only or one of a few people in a meeting, classroom, field, or workplace who look or sound like you or are much older or younger than you, then it’s only natural you’d sometimes feel like you don’t totally fit in. Plus, if you’re the first woman, person of color, or person with a disability to achieve something in your world, e.g., first VP, astronaut, judge, supervisor, firefighter, honoree, etc. there’s that added pressure to represent your entire group. Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes about competence and intelligence.
- Accentuate the positive. The good news is being a perfectionist means you care deeply about the quality of your work. The key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, but don’t go overboard with routine tasks and forgive yourself when the inevitable mistakes happen.
- Develop a healthy response to failure and mistake making. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Instead of beating yourself up for falling short, do what players on the losing sports team do and glean the learning value from the loss and move on reminding yourself, “I’ll get ’me next time.”
- Right the rules. If you’ve been operating under misguided rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance.
- Develop a new script. Become consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head when you’re in a situation that triggers your Impostor feelings. This is your internal script. Then instead of thinking, “Wait till they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” tell yourself “Everyone who starts something new feels off-base in the beginning. I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.” Instead of looking around the room and thinking, “Oh my God everyone here is brilliant…. and I’m not” go with “Wow, everyone here is brilliant – I’m really going to learn a lot!”
- Visualize success. Do what professional athletes do. Spend time beforehand picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly posing your question in class. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress.
- Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking and then dismissing validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back.
- Fake it ‘til you make it. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn-out phrase, fake it ‘til you make it, still stands: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your confidence to build.
Gratitude Practice: By incorporating a gratitude practice into your life, every aspect of your day-to-day activities will be impacted by this very powerful thought process. The positive impact will show up in everything you do. Just like the example of two people going into the hospital with the same disease and the person with the negative attitude dies, and the person with the positive attitude lives.
Gratitude Mindset: The overarching aspect of a gratitude mindset is that it encompasses everything from your daily thought process to your meditation practice and to your overall approach to your life. A gratitude mindset helps you to focus on your life experiences through the lens of your abundance and blessings.
Gratitude Journal: Writing in your daily gratitude journal does a great job of planting those thoughts deeper into your brain. Just as physical exercise is so important for our bodies, so too is the exercise you give your brain. You want to exercise that brain muscle every day, and a gratitude journal is a great way to do that. Here is why I recommend this so strongly:
“If you think about it, it is like a dream,
If you talk about it, it inspires you, but
If you write about it, it empowers you”
“Gratitude turns what you have into enough”