The Emotional and Physical Effects of Being Thankfulby Juan Sepúlveda Imagine this: You are approaching the door of a business and notice that someone is walking in close proximity behind you. You recognize that they are going to enter the establishment as well; therefore, you politely hold open the door to let them in before you. Now, imagine that as the people are entering the building they don't say "thank you" or even acknowledge your kind gesture. How would that make you feel? I would venture to say that the rude behavior from that person walking into the building might surprise you, disappoint you or even anger you. One of the early lessons we receive from our parents -hopefully- is to say Please and Thank you. When we habitually use these two expressions, they become a catalyst for positive interaction with others. When we say please, we are politely requesting something from someone else and when we say thank you, we express our gratitude for the fulfillment of said request. You will probably agree that the moments in which you express your gratitude towards someone, you are creating a pleasant experience for them, thus encouraging them to extend their kindness to you again in the future, if needed. Of course, genuine gratitude should not be accompanied with any expectations from your part, instead it should reflect your acknowledgement that you are the benefactor of someone else's efforts and that you are not taking those for granted. On the other hand, if you neglect to express gratitude towards people who are benefiting you through their actions, not only might you discourage them from extending you their assistance in the future, but you might be discouraging them from being charitable towards others in the future as well. Although I reiterate that gratitude should be a selfless action on your part, by being grateful, you are also becoming the benefactor of such action.
Boost Your Immune SystemThe benefits of adopting an attitude of gratitude are not limited to mental and emotional ones, there are physical health benefits. According to Dr. Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, people who adopt more optimistic attitudes like gratitude, can have stronger immune systems. A study led by Dr. Aspinwall compared the number of blood cells, which directly protect the immune system, between optimistic/grateful students and their pessimistic counterparts. The results of the study suggested that the immune system of the more optimistic students was stronger than that of the more pessimistic group.
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus (Greek Stoic Philosopher).
Count your blessingsRobert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, of the University of California, Davis, and The University of Miami, respectively, conducted an experiment in 2003, where they observed three groups of participants. Emmons and McCullough assigned one group to keep a daily journal of the things for which they were grateful. The second group kept track of daily annoyances while the third group wrote neutral observations and social comparisons. The results were surprising, as they revealed that those who kept a gratitude journal reported significantly more overall satisfaction with their life. They felt more optimistic about the future and felt more connected than their peers in the control groups. Additional benefits recorded in the experiment, as a result of having a gratitude journal, was an increase in exercise pattern, and an overall decrease in physical ailments. These are just two studies from many more that I found in my research, but in addition to the aforementioned benefits enjoyed by the more grateful subjects, studies found decreased levels of stress, increased emotional connection and better sleeping patterns.
ConclusionThe next time you open the door, only to be completely ignored, remember that they are paying the price for their rudeness, by not being grateful. Take moments like that as a reminder to adopt an attitude of gratitude. In the process of this brief article, I have shared with you a way in which you can reduce stress in your life, help you sleep better, improve your immune system, increase your emotional well-being, and improve your existing relationships. Therefore, in the spirit of gratitude, I think there is only one last thing left for me to say… From the bottom of my heart… You're welcome.
What kind of gestures or words do you prefer when someone does something nice for you like opening a door?-Please share your answer in the comments section below-
Juan Sepúlveda is the founder of The Gentlemen's Brotherhood. Juan is a professional artist and award-winning speaker whose work focuses on inspiring others to live the best version possible of their life. This article was originally published on The Gentlemen's Brotherhood (Jun. 2015).
- Heubeck, Elizabeth. “Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude.” 5 Sept. 2014 <http://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost?page=2>
- McCullough, Michael & Emmons, Robert. “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2003.
- http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/between-you-and-me/201303/5-donts-practicing-gratitudez5 "Don'ts" of Practicing Gratitude- Psychology Today.