The more I witness the subtle and profound shifts in clients after a gratitude practice, the more curious I am about what “the experts” know regarding gratitude’s effect on our overall mental, emotional, physical health. There’s some exciting notions creeping into the scientific community regarding this topic!
1. PTSD & Post-Traumatic Growth: In a study conducted in 2006, researchers found that Viet Nam veterans suffering from PTSD had significantly less gratitude in their perspectives on life than veterans in a control group. That said, when asked to participate in daily journaling exercises eliciting gratitude, those with PTSD has a significant improvement in their daily outlook! (Kashdan, Uswatte, and Julian (2006)). A study measuring VIA traits (Values In Action) of people before and after the 9-11 attacks showed that gratitude was one characteristic that increased during this time period aiding in higher daily functioning (Peterson & Seligman, 2003).
2. Healing from Mental and Physical Ailments: A large study (2087 =n) in 2002-2003 showed that those who recovered from psychological or physical ailments had higher levels of gratitude (esp. appreciation of beauty, creativity, gratitude, bravery, spirituality, and love of learning) than those who had not (Peterson & Seligman, 203).
3. Better Sleep: A study comparing those with insomnia to those with regular sleep behavior, showed that higher gratitude correlated with better sleep quality and quantity (Nelson & Harvey, 2003).