OPINION

Be thankful, with an attitude of gratitude

Ritchy Hitoto
Pratt Tribune
Ritchy Hitoto is the head athletic trainer at Pratt Community College and a sports medicine instructor, as well as a freelance columnist for The Pratt Tribune.

Gratitude is described as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Developing that quality and cultivating that feeling will bring multiple benefits to life. It has been said that mentally strong people tend to exchange self-pity for gratitude. Whether one writes a few sentences in a gratitude journal or simply takes a moment to silently acknowledge all that has been given, giving thanks can transform life. Here are seven benefits that an attitude of gratitude will bring you:

1- Gratitude opens door to more relationships – One of the first things a parent teaches his or her children is “Thank you”. As matter of fact this word is so quickly engrained in our little children that we often disrupt or cut short what were doing until the child comply to show gratitude. The 2014 study published in Emotion explains that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.

2- Gratitude improves physical health – When a mother give birth or breastfeed her a new born baby, a hormone called oxytocin is being released by the body. That same hormone is also produced when humans feels gratitude. Feeling grateful allow the brain to release oxytocin also known as the bonding hormone. Grateful people also tend to take care of their body and their health. They tend to exercise more often, pamper themselves a when needed, have a healthy diet and nutrition and also tend to live longer.

3- Gratitude improves psychological heath – Whether you are, whether you “feel” or whether you think like it, it is the same to the brain. There are three main neurotransmitters that the brain produces when someone is or feel happiness and pleasure, and they are namely serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Interestingly enough it is those same neurotransmitters that the brain produces when we are or feel depressed or sad. But what’s the difference? The difference is that in the case of being happy or feel pleasure those hormones are release in orderly fashion. But in the later case, those are out of balance in the body thus creating chaos and disarray. Gratitude is an efficient way to keep those hormones in check, thus allowing us to improve our psychological health.

4- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression - Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly. A 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. T

5- Grateful people sleep better - Gratitude does more than uplift someone’s spirit, it produces a serenity that carries into bedtime. Scientists that have studied the effects of gratitude on sleep have found some illuminating results. Thoughts of thankfulness for positive things before sleep resulted in falling asleep more quickly and for a longer period of time. Doing gratitude exercises had elevated optimism, improved well-being, decreased blood pressure, and better sleep quality.

6- Gratitude improves self-esteem - A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

7- Gratitude increases mental strength - A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Gratitude is a major contributor to resilience following traumatic events. “Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.”

Those seven benefits are only a few among many of the benefits of an attitude of gratitude possess. In this season of thanksgiving, let us not be like the “nine” who begged for mercy and healing, obtained it and never came back to thank their benefactor. 

Instead, let us be like the unexpected Samaritan who “when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, fell down on his face at his feet giving thanks.” 

You have much to offer that it would be shame only to share it during the holiday season. Start now, and flood the internet and your social media with gratefulness stories, lists and experiences and add to it #GiveThanks. More than just for a season let us make Thanksgivings a part of your daily routine and a lifestyle! #GiveThanks

References https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/causes https://www.relaxmelodies.com/blog/how-gratitude-can-improve-your-sleep/ John Ortberg, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Bo King James Bible version, Luke chapter 17