I read this statement some months ago about the power of gratitude. A man was listening to a gentleman complain and this is the comment he made when the gentleman was done. “I see that our friend here is living on Grumbling Street. Every day of life there is a struggle. I used to live on Grumbling Street too.” He went on to explain how gloomy his life used to be: how poor his health, how joyless his outlook, how depressed his mentality. “But finally, I moved onto Gratitude Avenue,” he said with a grin. “And ever since that move, I’ve had a lot more sunshine, the air is better—even my health improved!

In this article, we will discuss a few benefits of gratitude:

Health and Mental Wellbeing

Gratitude has an incredibly positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. According to the book of Proverbs “A joyful, cheerful (grateful) heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.”

“The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” says Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and a leading scientific expert on the science of gratitude. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide. Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness. It’s impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”

Also according to Dr Alex Korb, PhD, in Psychology Today, there is a direct correlation between dopamine  and gratitude. Hypothalamus is also responsible for secreting three good feeling hormones: Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Endorphins. Korb points out that practising gratitude, can keep you healthier and happier, increase exercise patterns and frequency, improve sleep, decrease depression, and result in fewer aches & pains.

Practising gratitude in order to be healthy mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually is really powerful. Zig Ziglar is not indifferent to the subject and quotes “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

Optimism and change of life’s perspective

Gratefulness helps people to shift their perspectives from what they don’t have to what they have. The German Kent noticed “It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”

Gratitude fills the heart with joy and hope for the future. Melody Beattie puts it so well, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

We are motivated when we become grateful and “when I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around,” remarked Willie Nelson. The change of perspective happens in life when we can join Alphonse Karr by saying “some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” “Gratitude liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation”, according to John Ortberg.

Gratitude Improves Focus and Increases Productivity

Having the right focus in life requires that we adopt the right attitude which is the attitude of gratitude. Rumi advises us to, “Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.”

Once we cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to us, and to give thanks continuously, we find the energy and the drive in us to motivate ourselves and to be focused. Then we are able to achieve more than we can imagine. Amy Collette remarks that “Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” Once that joy is sparked in our soul, we can improve our focus on the positive things and become creative. It will also help improve workplace culture, and increase productivity and innovation!

In a team where members practice gratitude regularly, the people have better performance and “the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement” observes Charles Schwab. “Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices“, remarks Robert Braath and “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy”, quotes Fred De Witt Van Amburg. In conclusion, to move from the Street of Grumbling to the Avenue of Gratitude, here is a time-tested exercise: start your day by setting aside time to write down 5 things for which you are grateful. At the end of your day, repeat the same exercise but with 5 more things you are grateful for, different from what you wrote in the morning. You will be amazed at how your life will turn around. Gratitude is good medicine; an ounce of gratitude is worth a pound of cure. Two daily dosages will keep us healthy emotionally, mentally and physically.

Patrick Abah-Dakou