Through the journey of sobriety, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools available with the most significant impact on your quality of life. Cultivating gratitude doesn't cost any money, and it certainly doesn't take much time, but the research speaks for itself. Here are seven benefits backed by the science of gratitude.
1) Making new friends and healthy relationships during a sober lifestyle is essential to your long-term success, and a little gratitude can open the door to new relationships. By acknowledging other people's efforts, thanking a stranger for holding open a door or just showing some appreciation for an act of kindness, the recipient of your gratitude is more open to an ongoing relationship.
2) Gratitude improves psychological health, says Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., who is the world's leading scientific gratitude expert. You can effectively reduce toxic emotions, like envy, frustration, resentment and even regret. Dr. Emmons' research also concluded that gratitude boosts happiness and reduces depression.
3) Gratitude can also improve your physical health. Grateful people are more likely to take care of their health, which leads to fewer aches and pains and increased self-care activities like exercise and regular check-ups with a doctor.
4) Gratitude reduces aggression, even when others behave unkindly and empathy actually increased! Research shows that people with more gratitude are far less likely to retaliate against others, even after receiving negative feedback. Their sensitivity and empathy towards others increased, while the desire to seek revenge decreased.
5) By spending just 15 minutes a day to down gratitude statements will help you sleep more soundly and for longer!
6) When you show gratitude, your self-esteem improves! Being grateful has proven to reduce social comparisons, and rather than feelings of resentment towards others, grateful people can appreciate and celebrate others' accomplishments.
7) Gratitude helps fortify mental strength. For many years, research has shown that gratitude reduces stress and can play a major role in overcoming trauma. One particular study showed that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude had lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Recognizing everything you have to be thankful for —even during the hard times—fosters resilience. Sobriety isn't easy, but we have the tools within ourselves to cultivate better lives, and a great place to start is with a little gratitude.