Wondering if the benefits of being appreciative can really change your life?
I think you’ll agree with me that most of us have a lot to be grateful for.
Yes, we have things that trouble or challenge us, but compared to many, life is pretty good.
If you’re reading this you likely have a computer and/or smartphone. You also have enough free time to research topics that interest you. By default it’s also likely you have enough to eat and sleep with a roof over your head.
Many of us have those things and much more.
But we still can find ourselves feeling unsatisfied with life, our spouse, our job, etc.
It’s great to have goals and to want more out of life for ourselves and our family. But that shouldn’t be driven by greed, jealousy or unhappiness.
You CAN live the life of your dreams. But we don’t get that by focusing on what we don’t have or what people aren’t doing for us.
In this post, we’re taking an in-depth look at the benefits of being appreciative.
Specifically, we’re looking at the importance of gratitude in life, how gratitude can change your life and exactly how to put it into practice.
What is the meaning of gratefulness?
Being grateful, or practicing gratefulness, very simply, is (according to Merriam-Webster) “appreciative of benefits received” or “expressing gratitude”.
That seems simple enough, but how can we become more grateful? How can we express gratefulness and not take all the amazing things in our life for granted?
Yet again, WHY do we need to be grateful and how does that help us?
No matter who you are, where you are at in life or what you have or don’t have, I can pretty well guarantee you have something to be grateful for. Sure there may be a lot of things you are working on. You may have things that need to improve or things missing in your life.
But if we can train ourselves to appreciate what we DO have rather than only striving for what we don’t have, we will see an immeasurable boost in our happiness.
So if you’re looking for a list of the Ultimate Ways to Improve Your Life, make sure gratefulness and the benefits of being appreciative are on that list.
The terrible legacy of Achievement Versus Fulfillment
Tony Robbins was recently interviewed on the Tim Ferriss podcast (a brilliant interview which you should listen to in its entirety) where among other things he spoke about fulfillment.
Specifically, Robbins spoke about how fulfillment was missing from famed actor & comedian Robin Williams’ life. He went on to say that despite all the money, fame and achievement Williams garnered, it was never enough.
Williams, of course, eventually took his own life, despite seemingly “having it all”.
So that tells us, quite profoundly, that focusing on gratitude and finding ways to be fulfilled trumps material possessions and fame and fortune any day of the week.
Listen to that excellent interview here:
The crucial importance of gratitude in life
I mentioned above about cultivating an attitude of gratitude when you are feeling down or less than grateful.
I know that can be a challenge as I’ve been there myself. Sometimes its just a series of personal mishaps or missteps that leads us to this negative place. Sometimes a relationship issue leads to erratic behavior at work which leads to losing the job.
That in turn can affect our living arrangements, bill paying and a host of other things.
In a situation like this, it can be VERY hard to be appreciative or feel gratefulness towards anything. We feel lost, lonely, bitter and it’s easy to get into a blame game and avoid even looking at the actions we took that led us down this path, much less finding things to be grateful about.
So what are my . . .
35 Proven Benefits of Being Appreciative You Probably Didn’t Know
1. YOU WON’T TAKE PEOPLE FOR GRANTED
It’s easy to take our spouses, kids, bosses, co-workers, etc for granted.
After all, we see them daily and we all lead busy, repetitive lives where it’s all too easy to just have expectations of what they give to us without appreciating how they enrich our lives.
When they feel unappreciated that can start us down a negative path with them.
2. WE STOP COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS
Remember that just because they have that nice new car or big house doesn’t mean they are happy.
Comparisons, envy, and jealousy NEVER lead us down a healthy path.
If we go down those paths long enough it can be quite destructive to our mental outlook.
Rachel Cruze, daughter of the renowned financial coach and radio personality Dave Ramsey, and a now well-known author in her own right, has an excellent book on this very subject that I highly recommend called Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want
3. YOU LEARN TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Being present and mindful and “in the moment” is not a new concept but it has gained a lot of popularity of late.
People are really starting to embrace this concept of being focused on the here and now and not letting our thoughts wander off and not trying to multitask. When we are truly present and focused, it improves our connection to others
It also actually improves our productivity despite the lie we’ve been fed about multitasking. This is one of the Key Differences of Successful People vs Unsuccessful People.
4. YOU WILL BE HAPPIER
Take a minute when you first wake up every day and make a mental list of who and what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t need to be complicated or comprehensive.
It’s OK if it’s not everything in the entire world you feel gratitude for; just a few of the most important things that come to mind in the moment. The benefits of being appreciative in doing this daily is an overall improved outlook and attitude.
5. YOU’LL BE HEALTHIER
A recent study by the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that “Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people“.
— Entrepreneur (@Entrepreneur) November 21, 2016
6. YOU WILL LIVE LONGER
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “people who consistently experienced positive emotions with their parents as children and then later with their spouses as adults were less than half as likely as others to exhibit high levels of cumulative wear and tear on the body”.
7. PEOPLE WILL LIKE YOU BETTER
When people feel that you value them for who they are rather than what they do for you, they will naturally draw closer to you and value you more in return.
8. YOU’LL BE LESS SELFISH
In giving, we are recognizing that we have something of value that someone else doesn’t have. It could be time, money, knowledge or any one of a number of other things, but since we have it and someone else doesn’t we are giving it to someone who truly needs it.
In this case, we’re still talking about recognizing what we have of value. But this time simply acknowledging that and being grateful that we have it.
It also helps to remember that no matter what little we have, what we have lost, or what we think we need or deserve, there’s ALWAYS someone out there in this world who dreams of what we have.
9. YOUR CAREER WILL IMPROVE
When you go to work every day feeling entitled, that’s naturally draining to your boss and your co-workers.
After all, the world and the people in it owe us nothing. Hard work, a great attitude & flexibility are what drives employers to promote their employees.
As our attitude shifts to expecting less and appreciating more, we naturally spend less time grousing and more time doing. That won’t go unnoticed.
10. WE LEARN TO BE HAPPIER WITH LESS
When we focus on appreciating what we already have, we naturally start to focus less on keeping up with the Jones.
As that happens, our innate consumerism takes a back seat to focus on what really matters; family, friends, comfort, and safety. Adding that 4th TV, a new Land Rover or the latest Coach purse move down on the priority list.
11. OUR OPTIMISM IMPROVES
A recent study on the benefits of being appreciative was done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. of the University of California, Davis & Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. They tested a number of subjects over a 10 week period.
Half the group was asked to write about gratitude and what they were grateful for. The other group went the opposite direction and were instructed to write about daily irritations.
What do you think happened with those groups?
The group that focused on gratefulness came out of the 10-week study feeling happier, more optimistic, healthier and had a tendency to exercise more and take better care of themselves.
Dr. Emmons also has some books on this subject, so check more of his work here:
12. IT BOOSTS OUR SELF-ESTEEM
When we feel like everything is constantly going wrong, it can decimate our self-esteem.
So as you change your outlook, it naturally has the net effect of Boosting Our Self-Esteem. As our self-esteem improves, that too has a cascading effect of bringing positive results into our life; one of the most profound benefits of being appreciative.
13. DECISIVENESS IMPROVES
Indecision is often rooted in frustration or fear. As we learn to accept and appreciate the world around us and the people in it, we naturally become less fearful.
After all, when we come to terms with the fact that almost all of life is out of our control, there isn’t much left to fear. When that happens, we become more confident and make decisions faster.
14. YOU’LL FIND IMPROVED RESILIENCE
Many of us struggle with a Fear of Failure or Rejection.
But by focusing on being happy with what we have instead of what we don’t have, you will find you naturally flow around life’s challenges instead of letting them stop you in your tracks. Resilience simply means to keep trying until you get it; to not giveResilienceience is a natural result of gratefulness.
15. YOU WILL BE MORE RELAXED
“We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.”
16. YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS WILL IMPROVE
With decisiveness, as I mentioned above, you will naturally be more confident and make decisions faster. As an employee, employers value and reward those who can confidently and quickly move the needle forward and do so with a positive attitude. But even outside of the workplace, you’ll naturally be seen more as a leader than a follower.
17. YOU WILL DEEPEN YOUR MARRIAGE OR RELATIONSHIP
I think one key takeaway can come from the above Tony Robbins quote.
Quite simply when we’re ONLY focused on what we can get from others or what we think we deserve or what others have that we don’t, we’re almost always going to be disappointed, mad or frustrated.
If we do that long enough over a period of time it’s like we’re programming ourselves to be in a negative mindset. That can set the stage for a downward spiral that affects our relationships, employment, health and almost every other important factor in our lives.
On the flip side, if we focus on what we already have; however much or little, we truly start to see the benefits of being appreciative.
If we focus our thoughts and energies on truly appreciating the people, places and things in our lives. Then we foster a genuine sense of gratefulness that does nothing but propel us forward into a more positive outlook.
18. YOU’LL NATURALLY WANT TO EXERCISE MORE
As our attitude and disposition improve all aspects of our physical being naturally start coming up on the priority list.
Thus you may find that exercise, even more benign things like a walk through the neighborhood, become more important. The residual benefits of being outside in the fresh air and getting vitamin D from the sun only multiply the benefits.
19. SLEEP PATTERNS IMPROVE
As our mind becomes more centered, more focused, less fearful and focused on being appreciative, you will naturally find sleep patterns improve. But don’t take my word for it.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “higher levels of gratitude predicted better subjective sleep quality and sleep duration”.
20. IMPROVES OVERALL ENERGY LEVELS
As we sleep better, exercise more, practice relaxation techniques more that all have the net effect of giving our bodies more physical energy.
21. OUR FRIENDSHIPS GET DEEPER
Being appreciative helps make us nicer, more trustworthy, more outgoing, and more likely to feel gratitude towards others.
This naturally causes our friendships to get deeper and draw people closer to us.
22. YOU GAIN EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY
Another study was with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They normally do an annual fundraiser targeting university alumni.
For their study, they split their team into 2 groups.
The first group called alumni and solicited donations the way it had been done year after year. The second group, however, met daily with the head of the fundraising department. This head of fundraising continuously thanked them for their tireless efforts in raising money for the school.
Can you guess what happened next?
You guessed it! The second group actually raised 50% more in donations than the first group!
23. IMPROVED EMPATHY
Empathy means to put ourselves, figuratively, in the shoes of another.
Not to feel sympathy for them or feel sorry for them, but to really understand their situation.
A recent study called the Do Good. Live Well Survey was conducted by United Healthcare. It studied over 4000 people and found that their lives improved in a variety of ways by focusing on others and appreciating what they have rather than focusing inward.
24. WE BECOME MORE PATIENT
When we focus less on judging others, forgiveness and being appreciative for everything we have, we naturally become more patient when things don’t go as planned.
In reality, we don’t truly have control over anything other than our own actions and reactions. Literally, everything else is completely outside of our control. When we realize that and quit trying to control everything, we naturally become more patient, calmer and happier.
26. YOU’LL BE LESS PRONE TO LOSING YOUR TEMPER
As we gain patience and learn to not sweat the little things, you’ll naturally find yourself losing your temper less. Little things don’t matter as much and everything wrong that happens isn’t personal.
27. YOU WILL MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS
As our personality shifts and we become more positive you will naturally find that draws you to more people who also see life that same way. Call it networking if you must, but your circle of positive friends, co-workers and peers will naturally expand as your attitude shifts.
28. YOUR OVERALL MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVES
In the studies by Dr. Emmons referenced above, he states “Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide”
29. THE TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE GO AWAY
Misery loves company. If you have been a “glass half empty” kind of person, you’ve likely attracted a few negative toxic people in your life.
So as you focus on being appreciative instead of focusing on negativity or what you don’t have, those people naturally start to spend their time elsewhere.
30. LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that “Relaxation techniques are known to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive adults”. Being more relaxed is naturally one of the side-effects of being appreciative.
31. YOU’LL BE A BETTER PARENT
When we are physically & mentally healthier, calmer, more productive and drawing closer to the people who are closest to us, we will naturally be a better parent to our children. We get more patient with them, treasure them for who they are and discipline them in a calmer manner. You’ll naturally find your parenting style may switch from Authoritarian to Authoritative.
32. YOU WILL LOOK BACK MORE FONDLY
Our memories are not etched in stone like a file saved on a computer.
Many of us remember things a little differently than they actually happened. As time goes on, our memories can drift a little further from reality. One of the benefits of being appreciative is that our memories naturally become more positive when we look back.
We don’t focus as much on the bad things in our past and focus more on what went right.
33. YOU’LL BE MORE FULFILLED WITH LIFE
When we stop feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling entitled we naturally feel more fulfilled.
Yes, there will always be someone with “more” than you. We know from some of my other examples that this doesn’t necessarily make you any happier. Set goals by all means. Have a plan and baby step your way to get there. But focus on enjoying the journey and not the destination. One of the studies I linked to above also noted that “gratitude . . . was associated with greater life satisfaction”.
Practice gratitude. You WILL lead a more fulfilled life.
34. IMPROVED CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Another study by the American Psychological Association found that those with “more positive emotions in ties to their spouse, other family members, and friends also report fewer health symptoms, fewer chronic conditions, and better subjective health.”
35. REDUCED RISK OF HEART ISSUES
It should come as no surprise that those who are frequently unhappy are more likely to have health issues.
Our attitude is the key to pointing our life in the direction it will go. Dr. Emmons found in his research that one of the benefits of being appreciative is that it lowers levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of cardiac inflammation & heart disease.
Did I cover all the benefits of gratitude & being appreciative you were looking for?
In this post, we looked at the benefits of being appreciative.
Specifically, we looked at the importance of gratitude in life and how gratitude can change your life.
By putting aside expectations and judgments and simply being appreciative of what you have and those around you, your life WILL improve. That’s not just idealism or spiritualism, but actually scientifically proven.
Do you struggle to find an attitude of gratitude? What challenges have you faced that gratefulness helped with?
Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!