Time and time again, science shows us that being happy, optimistic, and expressing gratitude often help us experience less grief, sickness, and lengthens our lifespan.
Being negative and nitpicky is easy. It’s easy to point out faults in others and voice your opinion, but most people find negativity to be an ugly personality trait and it could be throwing off your health too.
Scientific evidence is generally pretty conclusive when it comes to your mood, outlook and health. Happy people have been shown to live 10 years longer than unhappy people, and optimists have a whopping 77% lowered risk in heart disease than pessimists.
In one study, a group was asked to name five things they were grateful for every day, while the other was asked to name 5 annoying hassles. Those who expressed the 5 things they were grateful for were happier and optimistic, and over time, reported fewer negative physical symptoms like nausea, acne, and headache.
Also, when depressed people were asked to list things they were grateful for, their moods were significantly lifted. It is worth noting that this won’t work for every depressed person.
According to Dr. Lyubomirsky, gratitude:
- Promotes savoring of positive life experiences
- Bolsters self-worth and self-esteem
- Helps people cope with stress and trauma
- Encourages caring acts and moral behavior
- Helps build social bonds, strengthen existing relationships, and nurture new relationships (and we know lonely people have twice the rate of heart disease as those with strong social connections)
- Inhibits harmful comparisons
- Diminishes or deters negative feelings such as anger, bitterness, and greed
- Thwarts hedonistic adaptation (the ability to adjust your set point to positive new circumstances so that we don’t appreciate the new circumstance and it has little affect on our overall health or happiness)