Gratitude may be a “chick thing”, but it’s another reason why women are happier and live longer than men. But you can even the playing field with two very simple words
Just so you know, gratitude has been around slightly longer than the internet. The Roman Philosopher Cicero deemed it ‘the greatest of virtues’ and the world’s major religions foster a sense of gratitude with prayers of thanks and litanies of blessings. However, when it comes to giving thanks, it would appear men are noticeably off the pace (sorry gents!). In comparison, women are more grateful on almost every level. Take Facebook, women are grateful for sunny days to butterflies to ass-kicking gym sessions.
Despite this, are we actually becoming a more grateful society? It hardly feels like it. People are least likely to express gratitude in the workplace despite wishing to be thanked more often in it. If asked, most would say they are grateful for family and friends, yet only 52% of women and 44% of men express gratitude on a regular basis. All in all, most think we have become less grateful over the past 20 years.
What you won’t see on Twitter, is a decade’s worth of research from scientific studies on gratitude. The new field of ‘positive psychology’ has produced more than 1000 scientific papers showing that gratitude, can improve three key areas of your life;
As far as your health goes, studies show that gratitude can significantly lower systolic blood pressure, helping those with hypertension. It also showed, those who felt most grateful about life, slept better. Grateful people it seems, have more positive thoughts and fewer negative ones just before sleep. Research also links the experience of feeling grateful emotions to an increased activity in the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is beneficial in controlling stress.
A study at the University of North Carolina found that gratitude is like a booster shot for romantic relationships. The study discovered that the good deeds we do for our soulmates go completely unnoticed about half the time. Which can lead to feeling underappreciated or feelings of resentment.
This can be rectified with one simple exercise. Each night, independently responds ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following 2 statements. First statement; I did something thoughtful for my partner. Second; My partner did something thoughtful for me. This strategy will highlight all the little things you may be unaware your partner does and the opportunity to give and receive gratitude.
This involves the power of ‘thank you’ in the workplace. Most of us never hear a word of heartfelt praise at work, even though 81% of us say we’d work harder if we did. The connection here is that workplace gratitude is directly associated with productivity, the more employees feel valued, the harder they work. The absence of gratitude can send as powerful a message as the presence of it, as someone not thankful can send a strong signal of distrust.
Consider this: Negative attitudes are bad for you while gratitude makes you happier and healthier. In a word, it is remarkable that the positive effects of gratitude, are consistent, significant and quantifiable. In that, if you invest in a way of seeing the world that is mean and frustrating, you’re going to get a world that is, well, more mean and frustrating.
So why do we suffer from ‘gratitude deficit disorder’? Theories suggest that gratitude implies we need help, and we don’t like looking weak. Gratitude implies dependence, and we don’t like being dependent. Gratitude is an emotion, and we don’t like emotions. But if you can find a authentic reason to give thanks, with anything that is going right with the world or your life. Then statistics say you’re going to be happier while perhaps bringing out the best in those around you too.