by Dr. Lorin Bradbury
Question: It’s Thanksgiving. Is there any psychological research on the benefits of being thankful?
Answer: I didn’t find any empirical research directly on the topic, but I found an article in psychologytoday.com written by Amy Morin that cites scientific literature on the benefits of gratefulness. I will not cite all the research she cites. You can obtain that by going go her article titled, 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. The bullet points are her benefits of gratitude, and the comments are mine. I replaced the word gratitude with thankfulness
•Thankfulness opens the door to more relationships. New acquaintances are more likely to want to develop a relationship with you if you are thankful than if you are unthankful. Typically, those relationships, in turn, improve your quality of life.
•Thankfulness improves physical health. Interestingly, thankful people have been found to experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. They tend to exercise more and in general tend to take better care of their physical health, which contributes to longevity.
•Thankfulness improves psychological health. Thankfulness reduces a multitude of negative emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Research has found a link between thankfulness and well-being.
•Thankfulness enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Thankful people are more likely to produce behaviors beneficial to others, even when other people behave less kindly.
•Thankful people sleep better. Research has shown that if you spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few thankful statements before bed, you are more likely to sleep better and longer.
•Thankfulness improves self-esteem. Being thankful has been shown to increase athletes’ self-esteem, leading to improved performance. Some studies have shown that thankfulness reduces social comparisons. And thankful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
•Gratitude increases mental strength. Research continues to show thankfulness not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Thankful people have been found to have lower rates of PTSD.
So be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].