Simon Hopes
by on June 7, 2021

Alton Paige Hobbs Jr. is an environmental consultant and a huge proponent of cultivating that “attitude of gratitude” you hear so much about. Being thankful should be much more than a once-a-year reflection, says Hobbs. In fact, cultivating gratitude is possibly one of the most underused and overlooked tools available to us as we pursue happiness and mental health.

“It’s free, it doesn’t take much time, and it’s easily accessible to everyone,” says Alton Paige Hobbs Jr.. “But the benefits are tremendous.” And research backs up this claim. Hundreds of studies have revealed that gratitude can have many benefits for those who practice it regularly.

Gratitude Improves Your Mental Health Says Alton Paige Hobbs Jr.

Gratitude benefits our mental health in several ways, says Alton Paige Hobbs Jr. When we practice gratitude by journaling, listing what we’re thankful for, or running through our mantras in our minds, we benefit from an uptick in serotonin and dopamine. These are known as “happiness” chemicals that make us feel good and combat the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Gratitude has also been shown to reduce a number of toxic emotions, including regret, jealousy, resentment, and anger. And it’s not just a temporary effect. The longer you practice gratitude, the more benefits you will receive. You can actually rewire your brain with gratitude--you’ll begin to notice that your first reactions are more positive and your general state of mind is more joyful.

Gratitude Improves Your Physical Health As Well

Surprisingly to many people, the benefits of cultivating gratitude extend well beyond mental health. There are also great benefits to your physical health. According to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2012, grateful people report fewer aches and pains and self-report as much healthier than other people.

This is likely due to a few reasons, but the most powerful is the reduction of stress and tension that comes with practicing gratitude, explains Alton Paige Hobbs Jr. Reducing stress reduces inflammation, improves sleep, and leads to healthier eating habits. And in that same study, participants who practiced gratitude were much more likely to proactively care for their own health. Better self-esteem, less stress, less “I’m too busy” all adds up to a much healthier individual.

Gratitude Improves Your Quality Of Sleep

Gratitude also helps you get more and better sleep. In a study from Applied Psychology: Health and Well Being (2011), participants who spent fifteen minutes writing about what they’re grateful for before bedtime helped them sleep longer and less restlessly than those who did not.

This phenomenon is linked to several factors, says Alton Paige Hobbs Jr. One of the most significant is that gratitude and thankfulness lower your blood pressure and release serotonin. This makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.

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