Gratitude can’t cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. better coping & management of terminal conditions like cancer and HIV, etc…) apply to gratitude as well.
In fact, some recent science shows just that – those who engage in gratitude practices have been shown to feel less pain, go to the doctor less often, have lower blood pressure, and be less likely to develop a mental disorder. think of it as a reflection of my personality, it comes out naturally 🙂 The research for this post took an extremely long time (~25-30 hours), but because I’m such a nerd, that was fun and just replaced my usual reading time.
If we perceive our current life to have more good, we will also believe our future life to have more good.
Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are biologically more likely to focus on the good (gratitude) than on the bad (personal disappointment, anxiety, etc…). The problem with materialism is that it makes people feel less competent, reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude, reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life, generates negative emotions, and makes them more self-centered.
This also means that we get use to the bad things that happen to us.
Put more simply, we get use to the good things that happen to us.
For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness.
Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude.
But how much effort do you think is involved in doubling your income? Motivational speakers will tell you that the money is worth the sacrifices. Applying that same level of energy towards strengthening one’s relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on much more reliably creates positive, transformative change.
Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.
While in a grateful mood, we will feel gratitude more frequently, when we do feel gratitude it will be more intense and held for longer, and we will feel gratitude for more things at the same time.
The actual gratitude produced during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful mood.