“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it’s gratefulness that makes us happy.” – David Steindl-Rast
One day you won’t question if you should create a daily gratitude practice. It will be obvious and you will do it, most of the time, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
Don’t believe me? Majority of us shower and brush our teeth daily but that wasn’t always the case. In the early 1900s, only 7% of American households brushed their teeth and only once-a-week bathing habits were the norm. Ew, right? Today, many of us would consider it gross if you skipped brushing your teeth or showered only once-a-week.
How did this happen?
So, what brought this big change? Shockingly, it wasn’t an increased awareness of our body odor or bad breathe that encouraged us to begin these daily rituals. Our hygiene norms only began to change when scientists and doctors began to study and stress the medical benefits of these actions.
When doctors proved the importance of daily dental care and more frequent full-body bathing, these actions, slowly and steadily, became the pillars of health they are today.
With this change, cases of bad breath, decaying teeth, skin diseases and body odor declined in modern societies and we now view these actions as the basics of daily self-care.
Future Possibilities for Self Care
Brushing our teeth and showering wasn’t the norm, but when it became clear these actions were tools to living a longer, healthier life, the majority of people hopped on board.
The evolution of these daily self-care rituals from infrequent to societally and medically expected makes me wonder what other elective activities will become the norm in the not too distant future?
changing medical norms
Will daily eye care become a doctor-mandated action to counteract all the screen time and the way it is effecting our eye health? I don’t know about you, but besides the occasional eye drops when my eyes feel too dry and irritated, I don’t do anything for my eyes.
I don’t wear glasses or contacts, which can make you more aware of your eyes and require enhanced eye-care. Instead, I assume with each blink, my eyes take care of themselves. At this time, I don’t do anything special for my eyes and you probably don’t think that’s weird. However, is it weird? Will it be considered gross or in poor taste to ignore daily eye-care one day? We will see.
mental health hygiene
How about meditation or a daily gratitude practice? What is the probability these will become daily rituals everyone will do after showering and brushing our teeth? Considering the rise of mental health issues, I think the probability is high.
mental health from then to now…
Beyond our physical health, like skin care, teeth care and eye care, we need to care for our mental health. As mental health issues rise to a harmful rate across the globe, why don’t we have a daily action for mental self-care?
Do you take care of your mind daily the way you take care of your teeth and body? Most of us don’t. Most of us don’t even know what that means or would look like. The options for mental care have been a short, controversial and patient specific list.
changing the way we treat mental health
Lobotomy used to be the solution to mental illness. We are now aware of how archaic that treatment is and the medical field has made leaps forward in how mental health care is applied. Popular concepts of pills, drugs, psychotherapy, diet, and exercise make up a short list of prescriptions aimed to balance mental health.
More recently, meditation, psychedelics, and gratitude have made their way onto the list with some astonishing findings. Of these, gratitude practice rises as the least controversial and easiest to incorporate.
In addition, new scientific studies have discovered and explored a list of profound positive mental health results when the subjects practice daily gratitude.
the future of mental health prevention
When doctors focused studies on dental care to prevent gum disease, they discovered a solution, educated the public and daily teeth brushing became the norm.
Similarly, I propose, in the not so distant future, a daily gratitude practice will be encouraged as a preventative measure against the decay of mental health and daily gratitude will become a norm throughout modern society.
I believe one day a medically proven daily gratitude ritual for our mental health will be developed and practiced right alongside showering and brushing our teeth.
the far reaching facts of mental health
Why? One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. This places mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. With the increased emphasis on mental health and well-being, there has been a considerable uptick in studies on the connection between gratitude and well-being.
With each new study, they are building evidence that practicing gratitude effects your life, happiness, well-being, and health. A recent study, between the brain and gratitude, even discovered practicing gratitude can, over time, fundamentally alter the way the brain is wired.
the 2-minute life-changing habit
So, the real question becomes, if you knew that a 2-minute activity every day could ensure happiness, health and wealth in your life would you commit? More interestingly, do you know anyone who would say no to that question?
the science behind gratitude
Maybe you need the medical field to prove that it’s effective before you commit? I am not sure how much more evidence is necessary. In the database National Center for Biotechnology Information, when you search “gratitude” it returns over 57,000 studies. Study after study has been done on the positive effects gratitude can have on mental health and well-being.
What’s even more amazing is that I haven’t read any studies debunking the benefits of gratitude. So, considering it’s a win-win and the medical field is proving its importance, why isn’t gratitude a common daily practice for everyone? Let’s change that.
consistency is key
You don’t need to study to learn how to do it and we all have two minutes every day to invest in our well-being. So, for extra motivation, I have pulled together the below list to show you what benefits you could experience with a regular gratitude practice.
The key to the most impactful benefits is consistency. Study findings show that you will experience an enhanced positive feeling with each gratitude practice but only with a sustained practice will the effects ripple into other areas of your life and rewire your brain in a positive way.
There are numerous benefits across the studies but I compiled the following Top 10 List to showcase the effects I found to be most encouraging for me to practice this mental health ritual and hopefully inspire you too as well.
10 Life-Changing Benefits of Gratitude
- Gratitude reduces stress.
- Gratitude makes you happier.
- Gratitude attracts new friends.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude improves sleep.
- Gratitude helps you relax.
- Gratitude increases energy levels.
- Gratitude lets you live longer.
- Gratitude boots your career.
Looking for ways you can easily incorporate gratitude into your daily life? Discover 7 unexpected ways to build gratitude into your daily schedule to finally have a steady gratitude practice that you can stick to. I'm certain you won’t regret it.
I look forward to hearing how you build gratitude into your life and the benefits you discover with your consistent practice. Thank you for reading.
57,000 Studies on Gratitude
Why Gratitude Is Good
How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life
The Benefits of Gratitude: 28 Questions Answered Thanks to Gratitude Research
The effects of gratitude expression on neural activity.
Gratitude and Well Being The Benefits of Appreciation
The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life
When Did People Start Brushing Their Teeth?
Bathing Myths Come out in Wash
World health report: Mental disorders affect one in four people
The Science of Gratitude: More Benefits Than Expected; 26 Studies and Counting