As the heat of summer begins to wane away as those cool, crisp fall-like mornings become more frequent, people begin to pull out their autumn decor and spend more time thinking about the fun that fall brings. The fun holiday months have arrived! Soon we’ll begin to see the hundreds of daily posts on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram from our pumpkin spice loving friends and in the not so far future, people will start making their annual posts about the things they are thankful for each day. It never fails that in November, half the people on our social media feeds start posting their usual “I am thankful for” posts each day of the month.
Why does it seem that the only time we’re thankful is throughout the month of November? There shouldn’t be a set season for people to express their appreciation for other people and for things they have in their lives. This is something that should be natural and expressed daily. As a matter of fact, research shows that being thankful, showing appreciation and generally feeling good about life has a big impact on not only our attitude, but on our mental and physical health.
According to Harvard Medical School, a clinical trial at UC Davis showed that thankful people had lower blood pressure, slept better and had better immune function. That alone is a great reason to be more appreciative, but there are many other reasons to jump on the ‘thankful train’ and start winding down a new path to health and happiness. Here are 10 proven benefits of being appreciative that you never knew about.
Improve Your Relationship
Okay, it isn’t 100% guaranteed, but it’s worth a try! If you’re in a relationship and seem to have a lack of excitement or feel doomed about the way things are going, finding things to be thankful for can possibly help boost things up. When both people in a relationship feel that the other appreciates them, it can work wonders on both people. Instead of giving up at the first sign that the relationship may be going south, try to incorporate some appreciation into the mix and see what happens. As with all relationships however, sometimes even the best intentions and moves won’t save what isn’t meant to be. So, if showing that you are thankful doesn’t help get things on track, then you need to face defeat, hold your head high and be thankful that you can move forward to bigger and better things!
When your heart is full of happiness and you feel content with life, it is much easier to sleep. People who lay down at night with a heart and head full of negative vibes and thoughts tend go have a tougher time falling asleep than those who lay down, say a little thank you for the day they were given and drift away to peaceful dreams. Push those negative thoughts away and take a few moments in the evenings to write down things that you are thankful for. Even if it’s something simple like the hot water stayed hot for your entire shower, there are many things big and small to feel appreciation for.
Put an End to Anger
Are you prone to flare ups of anger? Does grabbing a coffee at a drive thru window unhinged you at times because the cashier makes you wait or they fail to count back your change? We’re all guilty of getting upset at trivial things in life, but when we take control and find the little things to be appreciative of, the less time we have for anger. So, from this moment on, find those little things to be thankful for!
A Little Patience
Patience is something that many of us don’t have a great deal of. We want things to be our way and when we want something, we want it right now. We are all guilty of not having the patience we need at times. Taking time to be thankful for the small things in life each day is a great way to start building patience. The next time your toddler is spinning on the floor screaming during a temper tantrum, step back and be thankful for that loud screech they’re making. One day, that voice and the stubborn determination might be what leads the world!
Help Ease Depression
First, let me say that if you are feeling depressed, don’t let your depression fester. Seek help from a licensed professional who can help guide you through steps to take to ease your depression. You are an amazing person and I personally want you to be happy with life. A positive thing to try is to take time each day to find at least three things that are good in your life. Take it from someone who has been there, even on the darkest of days, there is always a shimmer of light. The bills may be piled high and it may seem like you are all alone without a true friend in the world, but even the small things like the hot cup of coffee you had for breakfast or the birds singing in the trees outside can be profound in helping ease the depression and finding a happier person waiting to burst out!
Just a note on this: If you or someone you love are feeling overwhelmed with life and need some emotional support, please don’t keep it bottled up inside. There are people who care as well as many organizations out there who can help. One organization is the National Suicide Prevention Line and you can contact them by calling 1-800-273-8255.
Stop Comparing Your Life to Other People
We all know what it’s like to feel a little envious when someone we know always seems to have all the luck in the world raining down on them. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing what we do to what others do, and this is something that just needs to stop. Now. Right now! Stop comparing your life to your brother or sister, best friend, neighbor, team-mate or church member. You are your own person and when you are jealous of others, green with envy and downright angry that someone else has something you want, it can only lead to an unhealthy mental status which ultimately will lead to physical health problems including high blood pressure, overeating and general lack of physical exercise. When you realize that you are amazing and that the things you have and do in life mean something, be appreciative for who you are and what you have, and it will keep you on track for better mental and physical health.
This doesn’t mean that you need to drop everything, hop a plane and jump the pond to backpack across Europe while you drop all your responsibilities, but it does mean to take time to understand that you only live once, and you should make the most out of every situation. People are so focused on working hard and paying bills that they often fail to take time out to appreciate the world around them. Stop and take a break during the day for a walk around the block. Take time for a phone call with a friend that you haven’t spoken to in years. Do you have a free weekend coming up? Don’t spend it sitting in your recliner watching hours of Netflix. Instead, jump in the car and head to a nearby waterfall or lake and enjoy the scenery. If nature isn’t your favorite place to be, then head to the mall or local shopping center. You don’t have to spend money to walk around, look at cool things and see other people. Do things in the moment rather than planned in advance. Live spontaneously and be thankful for even the smallest moments that you can get out and try something new.
Increase Your Lifespan
Happier people live longer. A study by Professor Andrew Steptoe, the director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare at UCL England showed that people who reported living happy lives showed lower rates of mortality than those who stated they lived unhappy lives.
You Will Have More Friends
No one likes to be around an angry person. If you spend every waking moment griping and complaining about even the trivial things in life, no one will want to be around you. When you spend time showing appreciation for even the small things in life, your entire appearance is boosted to others. Thankful people are generally happier people, and people flock to happy people. If you are one of those who consistently posts to Facebook every negative thing in life or you grumble when you must speak to someone at the store, those negative vibes are not missed by friends and soon you may find yourself sitting home alone and lonely while everyone you know meets for coffee or dinner. Whether we admit it or not, we all need friends to be in our lives and the best way to do that is to be a happier person so that people will want to be around us.
Increase Your Productivity
Nothing is a bigger downer than a bad day at work. If you walk into the office feeling sluggish, stressed about the workload or angry that you have so much piled on you, it is going to reflect in your productivity. Do you ever wonder why it never seems that you get a raise or that your boss and coworkers never take time to smile or say good morning to you? When you are a grouch, people tend to stay away. When you walk into work like you own the place (maybe you do own it!) and you smile and show appreciation for the work you have or the people you work with, that inner happiness shines and it not only increases your productivity at work, but it shows everyone around you that you are a pro and can handle even the toughest assignments. Productive people have a better chance to move up in the workplace and meet deadlines on time and they tend to have a better work/social relationship with others.
The bottom line is this: When you are appreciative of people, places and things you tend to be a happier person and happy people lead healthier lives.
What steps do you take to have a positive outlook on life and to show appreciation for the things that make you happy?