"If you give thanks (shukr), I shall certainly increase you" (Qur’an 14:7).Giving gratitude, or Shukr, is an important part of our religion and way of life, and for good reason. According to Amy Morin, the following seven reasons prove that a simple thing like giving thanks daily can improve our well-being enormously.
1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.Saying "thank you" is considered good manners by all accounts, and is the Sunnah of Islam. Not only do we need to thank God on a regular basis, but to thank the people around us who have helped us and who deserve some gratitude. As cited by Morin, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion, people who thank a new acquaintance are more likely to create an ongoing relationship with that person. This is great not only on a personal level, but professionally as well (for example, thank you notes after an interview or after getting help on a task). Friends, and co-workers will remember this gesture, which can lead to stronger friendships, better teamwork, and new professional opportunities.
2. Gratitude improves physical health.
Morin cites a study published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2012 that says "grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people." In addition, grateful people tend to take better care of themselves and keep a healthier lifestyle, leading to longevity. Perhaps it is because grateful people are aware of the blessing that is their health and well-being, and don't take that for granted.
3. Gratitude improves psychological health.Grateful people have been cited as being less depressed and more happy, which makes sense. People who have filled their hearts and minds with gratitude understand that everything happens for a reason, and our lives are all following a bigger plan. They also don't have as much room for negative thoughts. Morin confirms this by citing Robert A. Emmons, Ph. D., who "has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being."
4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
"Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky." People who are grateful are more positive in general, and have less desires to retaliate towards other or seek revenge. They also can experience greater empathy towards others and higher levels of sensitivity.
5. Grateful people sleep better.Having trouble sleeping? Track your positive thoughts in a gratitude journal before sleeping, for a longer and more satisfying rest. It only takes a few minutes each night, and can really remind you of what is important in like (consciously and subconsciously while you are dreaming)
6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.Morin also cites a 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Phsychology that shows gratitude is a key player in athletes' high self-esteem. "Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments"
7. Gratitude increases mental strength.And as if all the above was not enough, researchers say that giving thanks reduces stress and keeps us focused and balanced mentally. According to Morin "Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience." This is proven by studies from 2006 that show war veterans who were more grateful experienced less post-traumatic stress. This is just another example of how Islam goes hand-in-hand with science. While in prayer , on your way to work or school, or before sleeping, just take a few minutes to acknowledge what you have been blessed with and be grateful for those blessings. And don't forget the small, but important task of thanking others who deserve it. Like Morin says "Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life."
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.