The relationship between gratitude and trauma

Today is World Gratitude Day, and it’s the perfect opportunity to review all you have in your life and all that you’re thankful for.

Gratitude is a practice that doesn’t cost us any money and takes up very little time, but it will make a world of difference in your happiness, healing and overall health. Besides the general “feel good” stuff you’ll get from practicing gratitude, there’s actually a lot of research to support its benefits for mental health, and specifically for trauma survivors.

Robert A. Emmons is a professor and researcher who has been studying the positive effects of gratitude for many years and has found that this practice can reduce a multitude of toxic emotions and depression while increasing overall well-being.

The prac­tice of grat­i­tude can increase hap­pi­ness lev­els by around 25%. This is not hard to achieve — a few hours writing a grat­i­tude jour­nal over 3 weeks can cre­ate an effect that lasts 6 months if not more. Cultivating grat­itude brings other health [benefits], such as longer and bet­ter qual­ity sleep time. — Robert A. Emmons 

Anyone can benefit from practicing gratitude, even with small changes in everyday life. A gratitude journal is an easy and effective way to reap the benefits, simply write down one thing you’re grateful for every day — it’s simple. If you want to go deeper, there’s a great article on Tiny Buddha, that gives you tips for starting a gratitude practice.

For those who have suffered trauma, gratitude can be an exceptional tool in healing, as research shows the vast benefits in mental health for trauma survivors and those with PTSD.

A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11.  Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience. — Psychology Today

If you have read ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’ or have attended a Kim and Theo event, you’ll find that gratitude is a common theme for them. Kim Barthel and Theo Fleury discuss often, the gratitude they’ve cultivated for their own lives, and have received from others.

For World Gratitude Day, we offer you the opportunity to start a gratitude practice and let us know what you’re thankful for by sharing with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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