One of my favorite things to do is read about research that has anything to do with relationships, healing, thriving and mental health. I’m a nerd like that. I get especially excited when Scripture comes to my mind calling us to do something for thousands of years that research is only now revealing. Being grateful has a profound affect on our physical and mental health. In this post, I share some of my favorite short videos on being grateful and how this simple act can change your life in more ways than you realize!
God identifies that His will for us is to be thankful in ALL circumstances. This is His will for us because our loving Father knows what is best for His children. Science reveals that being grateful gives us a 25% boost in happiness. The action of counting our blessings seems so simple and easy…when our circumstances are delightful. But do you practice being grateful when your circumstances aren’t so great?
I struggle to be thankful for a home when I’m dusting and vacuuming. I don’t always smile when I’m unloading an abundance of provision (i.e. lugging groceries in from the car in the rain). Mediating arguments over who sat in the front seat yesterday is not when I look up to heaven and thank God for two of my favorite people. I imagined for a minute what my day would look like if I focused on the blessing of each of the circumstances I mentioned rather than the negative side. What would my energy look like if I smiled through each of these tasks and praised God?
I’m so thankful for the big things, but what if I started being grateful in the little things? Patterns are learned and solidified with practice. Wanna practice with me? Let’s do it together…
I scoured YouTube and found really short videos about the science of being grateful. Did I mention these videos are short? We’re busy, right? The videos on being grateful are not listed in any particular order (except I saved the best for last), but are worth a watch if you’re interested in learning why being grateful is a game changer and how to get started.
Do You Want to be Happier?
This video on being grateful opens with asking questions as their lead in… Do you want to be happier? Do you want to be healthier? I’m gonna bet the answer is a resounding yes! In one and a half minutes, this video outlines the health benefits of being grateful include a healthier heart, reduced sickness and better sleep. It goes on to say that relationships are improved by being grateful and people tend to be more forgiving. My favorite benefit of gratitude is the ability to overcome adversity. We live in a world that has plenty of adversity to go around. Gratitude equips us to overcome the adversity we will face.
The Science of Gratitude
“The Science of Gratitude” focuses mostly on the health benefits expanding from the previous video. The highlights of increased physical health include decreased illness, decreased chronic pain and increased energy (I want more of that…how about you?). Producers of this video go so far to say that research shows that life lasts longer for those who are grateful! Gratitude literally rewires the brain to be happier because it increases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin (like antidepressants without side effects), which activates the “bliss center” of the brain. Being grateful will literally train your brain to focus on positive events and deflect the negative ones.
The Gratitude Experiment
“The Gratitude Experiment” gives a great overview of the research done about being grateful by a leading advocate of gratitude, Robert Emmons. It opens with identifying the power of saying 2 little words…thank you. Apparently we stabilize at one level of happiness, meaning our joy stays pretty constant whether we are engaging in the day to day stuff or at a special event. We stay constant in our happiness level because we take things for granted. That makes sense, right? Without stepping out and practicing being grateful, our happiness level can’t be boosted. Summing it up, we have to practice being grateful in order to see the good.
Robert Emmons research method is briefly outlined…he had 3 different study groups journaling different topics. One of the topics journaled was…you guessed it….gratitude! Research showed that the group that journaled gratitude were happier, healthier and had better relationships.
This particular video takes the gratitude journaling one step further by giving great tips to begin journaling with focus on being grateful.
An Experiment in Gratitude
Loved this video! In “An Experiment in Gratitude” The researcher has several people write a paragraph about someone who has had a positive influence in their life. Each participant writes out their paragraph and reads it aloud. They think that’s it, but then the host tells them to call the person right now and read the paragraph to the person who has had a positive influence in their life. Surprised by the next step, the participants pick up phones and call their loved ones. They are literally practicing gratitude and you see the instant boost. The video demonstrates how identifying gratitude is beneficial, but has an even greater impact when shared with someone else. It reminded me of the verse in 1 Thessalonians…
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
We will never regret encouraging and building up someone else. If someone is a blessing to you…tell them! Not only will you have a positive impact on their day, you will benefit, too!
The Happy Secret to Better Work
“The Happy Secret to Better Work” by Shawn Achor is probably my favorite of all the videos. While it is the longest I’ve listed here at 12 minutes, he is the funniest researcher I’ve ever watched! His research also confirms that we were made to be grateful. Being grateful is God’s best for us and when we practice gratitude in all circumstances we benefit.
Shawn Achor’s research highlights the increase in success, productivity and accuracy as a result of gratitude. He talks about how our society tends to work backwards. Achor identifies that our world says you will be happier when you are more successful, yet research says you’re more successful when your happier. The way to get happier is to train your brain to see the world through a positive lens rather than a negative lens. Viewing the world through a positive lens shapes our reality. Think about that for a second…If I think negatively, my view of my relationships and circumstances will look bad, making me feels bad. The flip side, if I think positively about my relationships and circumstances, I will feel good.
This isn’t saying that we are to ignorantly face our life and pretend it is something different than the reality. It is saying that we must practice finding the good. There is good in everything, but we have to look for the good. Achor goes on to identify some simple ways to practice being grateful. I saved the best for last…don’t miss this one!
Being Grateful Wrap Up
Being grateful matters! We can literally train our brain to find the good and the benefits are endless. Practicing gratitude leads to a healthier and happier life. Each video gives ideas to begin changing your life through practicing gratitude. These ideas include gratitude journaling, building up others, acts of kindness among others. Let’s be purposeful in being grateful together.
How are you gonna get this gratitude ball rolling? Leave a comment below!