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Thanking others and the science of gratitude

Presents, cards, meals, hugs are all forms of giving thanks to others, and this time of year is of course particularly special. It’s also a time to give thanks for what we personally have achieved (not just materialistic items). Have you thought about the science behind giving thanks – gratitude?

Research has shown that gratitude can improve general well-being, increase resilience, strengthen social relationships, and reduce stress and depression. The more grateful people are, the greater their overall well-being and life satisfaction.

What is the science of gratitude?

When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions. They make us feel 'good'. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.

An interesting article in Newsweek refers to many studies, including a 2015 paper from the Journal of Religion and Health which shows a direct correlation between how grateful people are for who they are and their sense of hope, and even their sense of physical wellbeing. The same article quotes various studies which demonstrate further tangible benefits from gratitude, including:

  • Improved sleep quality. A 2009 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that those who expressed gratitude more often slept better and longer than those who didn't.
  • Increased self-esteem. A 2014 paper in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology found that athletes who expressed more gratitude toward their coaches, and also in general, had higher self-esteem two and six months later compared to those who weren't as openly thankful.
  • Increased helpfulness and empathy. A 2012 paper in Social Psychology and Personality Science found that higher levels of gratitude were linked to greater empathy and lowered aggression.
  • Increased resilience. In a 2006 study in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, scientists found that Vietnam War veterans with high levels of gratitude were more resilient, and less impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Gratitude can of course be shown at any time of year. But when combined with a longer-term perspective it becomes far more powerful. A simple ‘thanks for doing that’ (short term focus) can transcend into the much more meaningful ‘thanks for always doing…’ or even more fundamentally ‘thanks for being…’ (longer term focus).

In sheer practical terms, gratitude may also be easier at this time of year because we have more time to talk to the people who are important to us.

So, we would like to take advantage of the time of year to say thank you to you, our client - for you investing your time with us, your continued confidence in us, and for the opportunity this gives us to help you to achieve your purpose and goals in life, and to help us grow our business.

Being mindful of gratitude’s power to increase resilience and hope, we trust that our thanks go some small way to supporting you in these continuing difficult times, and through to a better future. Both in this coming year and on to your longer-term aspirations – financial and otherwise.

If you’d like to take a look at the Newsweek article you can find it here: https://www.newsweek.com/5-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude-398582

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