Gratitude, the act of being grateful, is a trait not often considered by most, but the fact is that a person who exhibits gratitude is the wielder of an incredible superpower.
In the cartoon strip Peanuts, written and illustrated by Charles M Shultz, there is one strip where Charlie Brown asks Linus what he wants to be when he grows up. Linus thinks a moment before answering “Outrageously happy!”
Happy. Almost every single thing any human wants in life can be distilled to that one word. We want the car, the house, the entertainment, the clothes, the trips, the (fill in your own blank here) because we believe it will make us happy. And finally, happiness has achieved a space in science.
There is a new study in the psychology field called Positive Psychology that studies the state of happiness. Where psychology traditionally has been the study of things that are wrong with people, positive psychology studies all the things that are right with people, allowing us to examine how the average person can become happier and more fulfilled in life.
Science has actually been able to prove that there are real benefits, or superpowers, that come with being grateful.
It turns out you don’t need a magic pill to be healthy; you just need a better attitude! Some studies actually link optimism to a boosted immunity. But beyond that, people who embrace the ideology of gratitude have less stress because they put all their mental focus on being grateful for what they have and for the experiences life throws at them—even the bad ones. That less stress leads to lowered blood pressure and fewer instances of heart attacks and stroke. Since cancer and stress are also linked, those people who are able to manage their stress by reframing their attitude towards their circumstances are less likely to end up with cancer than those people who do not focus on positivity.
Family and Friends
People with gratitude have an easier time sustaining meaningful and lasting relationships. A lot of this has to do with the fact that they express their appreciation for the people in their lives creating greater bonds and deeper loyalties with those people. This is more than just feeling relief that someone else is doing the dishes; it is being grateful the other person exists in your life and working to treat them well enough that they will want to stay in your life. When you treat them well, they feel gratitude and then want to treat you well, and the cycle of satisfying and complete relationships continues.
People who systematically feel grateful for the world around them are better equipped to safeguard their mental wellbeing when depression tries to seep in. They are also better equipped to deal with PTSD as shown by a study done with World War II veterans. People who feel grateful are better able to see someone else’s point of view and therefore do not get as easily offended or ruffled when life happens around them. Plus, their sense of well-being allows them to sleep better which also helps them maintain better mental preparation to handle the mental beating life sometimes throws.
(NOTE: If you're loving this, you'll be grateful for our article on the 7 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health.)
These are just a few of the main benefits of developing an attitude of gratitude. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said those who “set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”
It’s okay if you have to start small. Make a list of that’s your thing or start each day by thinking of something you’re grateful for. But whatever you do, make certain to start so you can unearth this superpower in you!