5 Reasons Why Practicing Gratitude is Important in Healthcare
It can often be said that we don’t reflect enough on things we should be grateful for in our life. Whether it’s your friends and family or health and career, practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on both your mental and physical health. For instance, if you can effectively foster a culture of gratitude and appreciation—such as with a simple handwritten “thank you” note or a compliment for a job well done—you can expect to notice a boost in morale, increase in patient satisfaction, decrease in turnover and burnout, and much more. In fact, according to a Glassdoor study, 80 percent of employees said they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.
Over the years, scholars have defined gratitude to be many different things—sometimes simple, often complex. However, today, it can be best described as a voluntary emotional state experienced when you acknowledge and appreciate an altruistic act or positive outcome. When you can detach emotionally from any situation (good or bad), and observe it from a bigger perspective, you can appreciate your blessings and live much longer and healthier lives.
Here are a few reasons why practicing and expressing gratitude should be a key part of your everyday life.
1. Gratitude Fosters Optimism
Optimism is the heart of gratitude. It enables you to see the good in every situation, regardless of how bad you may think it is. Although it’s not always easy to spot the silver lining, having a positive attitude can help you push through challenging situations and navigate life more healthily and skillfully. As I often say: it can always be worse or there’s always someone out there who has it worse than you.
2. Gratitude Increases Happiness
People who regularly feel grateful to others are more likely to feel loved and cared for by their friends, family and peers. It allows you to focus on the present and appreciate what you have now rather than what you don’t have and think you need. It also creates positive emotions like joy, love, and contentment which has proven to suppress negative emotions such as fear and anxiety.
3. Gratitude Expands Morality
People who experience gratitude are more likely to behave in moral ways, according to a 1988 study in the British Journal of Society Psychology. You are more driven to volunteer and help others because your behavior is motivated out of the concern for others. It is commonly seen as a good in society and relationships because not only does it allow you to be genuinely happy for others, but it also detaches negative feelings like envy and resentment.
4. Gratitude Improves Well-being
Grateful people are more conscious about their health and more likely to exercise and attend regular check-ups with their physicians. Mayo Clinic has looked into positive mindsets and thinking and found that it leads to a longer life span, lower rates of stress and depression, a stronger immune system, better coping skills, increased psychological well-being, and even a lower rate of heart disease.
5. Gratitude Encourages an Overall Better Life
Positive thoughts and attitudes are more than just being upbeat. A positive mindset adds value to life and helps you build social skills that lead to a prosperous life. Keep in mind, expressing gratitude is something you can do at any time, but making it a regular practice can not only produce positive benefits such as creating and achieving more goals, but it can also improve your mind, body and spirit.
Whether you’re at the forefront treating patients or behind the scenes ensuring compliance, practicing gratitude in healthcare can have a significant impact on how you treat yourself and those around you. I'd like to end with a quote that has resonated with me throughout the years.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
-John F. Kennedy
What are you grateful for today? Please share in the comments section below.
Deal, Janice, and Marie D. Jones. Gratitude. 1st ed., Lincolnwood, Publications International, 2016.