Are you grateful?

I mean, on a regular basis?

Sure, most of us count our blessings on Thanksgiving, but what about the other 364 days of the year?

And do you only count your blessings when something good or bad happens in your life?

Perhaps being grateful doesn’t rank very high on your to-do list. You certainly aren’t alone.

In a survey only “20% of American adults rated gratitude as a constructive and useful emotion”. And only 10 % “regularly and often experience the emotion of gratitude”.

So what, you might say. Gratitude isn’t a useful emotion.

After all, what good is it to you?

Being grateful seems like it’s someone else who benefits, surely?

They get the thanks, the appreciation. And likely as not, a kind favor in return.

I used to think so too.

Then scientists showed me otherwise.

Far from it being just a nice gesture or show of good manners, practicing gratitude has the power to affect you in a host of positive and beneficial ways.

And a multitude of scientific studies have shown that being grateful can actually transform your life, spiritually and physically.

Who would have believed that something so simple, and enjoyable, could be so powerful?

Here are 12 little known benefits of practicing gratitude:

1. Better sleep

Research studies have shown that people who keep a Gratitude Journal and practice gratitude experience better sleep. This includes faster time to sleep, 25% improved sleep quality, 8% increased sleep duration and less difficulty staying awake during the day.

2. More willpower.

Grateful people are shown to have greater willpower which leads to more success, including achieving more grade A’s in exams. New habits are also more easily created and kept to further increasing the likelihood of achieving their goals.

3. Greater fitness.

Grateful people on average exercise for 19% more time. They experience higher energy levels and find keeping to their routine easier.

4. More resilience.

This includes higher Emotional Intelligence, pro-active coping mechanisms and willingness to ask for help more readily. Grateful people are less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They literally ‘bounce back’ from personal crisis quicker and better.

5. Higher self-esteem.

Gratitude is shown to decrease envy, a major source of low self-esteem. Rather than being resentful that some people have more than they do – money, success, friends for instance – they are happy for them. Gratitude also decreases materialism which has been shown to increase happiness – quite simply, they are happier with what they already have.

6. More ‘social capital’.

Gratitude makes you ‘friendlier’ which in turn leads to more friendships and general 17.5% increase in ‘likability’. Gratitude is also shown to boost happiness and energy which is linked to pro-social behavior.

7. Better relationships.

Grateful people say ‘thank you’ more often and are also much less negative and critical of their partners, especially face to face. This has been show to extend the satisfaction and length of the relationship on both sides.

8. Better career prospects and higher income.

Gratitude has shown to make you a better manager and networker as well as increasing your decision making capabilities and productivity. It also helps you get mentors, protégées and benefactors. Being grateful even increases your general wealth by 7%.

9. Better health.

Writing in your Gratitude Journal for as little as 5 minutes a day regularly can result in increased wellbeing, including 10% less physical pain, 10% less stress related illnesses and 16% fewer physical ailments.

10. Stronger feelings of belonging.

Those who practice gratitude feel close to their community and give 20% more of their time and money. They have a strong a connection with those around them and experience less loneliness or feelings of isolation.

11. ‘Happier Memories’.

Gratitude actually affects the brain and can lead to recall of more positive memories and closure of upsetting ones. It can even transform some neutral memories into positive ones.

12. Longer life.

Keeping a gratitude journal results in a 5-15% increase in optimism. . Grateful people recognize the positives they already have in their lives which increases hope and confidence in the future and success in their endeavors. Optimistic people can live up to 7 years longer.

The Life-Changing Power Of Gratitude

All this science is fine, but how does gratitude – or a lack of it – really effect you?
Scientific results provide great evidence we might otherwise never see, but they can be a little dry and clinical.

Gratitude is not dry and clinical. It is a living, breathing miracle worker. A fantastic catalyst that can transform every area of your life.

So let’s take a look at how the life-changing magic of gratitude shapes the lives of two very different woman…

Laura Tong

Laura Tong is an Ambassador for the life-changing power of gratitude. Her writings regularly appear on Huffington Post and other top blogs. Why not take her fun and revealing quiz and find out Your Gratitude Score?