The Benefits of Gratitude 

News from the Madison College Libraries 

Mark Luetkehoelter, Librarian

November, fittingly with Thanksgiving, is when National Gratitude Month is celebrated. While that might seem a hokey thing to celebrate, much less a topic to be written about for a column, this might be a year where gratitude might be worth giving some thought. 

2020 will not likely be remembered fondly by most people. The pandemic brought tragedy, disruption and economic uncertainty to many of our lives.  Multiple disturbing news events exposed racial and class problems in the country. The presidential election seemed to intensify our nation’s polarization as the year went along. 2020 has turned out to be a year that you would least want to express gratitude, but you can make an argument that it might be a year when it’s most important to try. 

A Time magazine story from a couple of years ago highlighted seven benefits from practicing gratitude:  

  • It can make you more patient 
  • It can improve your relationships 
  • It improves self-care 
  • It can help you sleep better 
  • It may stop you from overeating 
  • It can help ease depression 
  • It can lead to sustainable happiness 

Among the many articles that come up in a subject term search on gratitude in the library’s EbscoHOST database is one entitled “Say Thanks, a Lot” by Susana Martinez-Conde in the journal New Scientist. The short, readable article highlights research and studies of how expressing gratitude as often as possible will help our life satisfaction and overall health. The article notes that many of us hold back on expressing gratitude because we feel it might sound hokey or insincere, when research shows that shouldn’t be a deterrent. 

If you want hard, empirical evidence of how gratitude can benefit you, search the library’s Discover catalog on the subject term gratitude to bring up the ebook, The Psychology of Gratitude, by Robert Emmons. After starting with a historical and philosophical foundation of gratitude, it then offers research from many different academic disciplines showing the benefits. 

What are some simple ways to express gratitude? 

  • Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day, and you can thank someone you know that has served. Don’t know anyone personally that has served? Send a general thank you email to Madison College’s Veterans Services at [email protected] 
  • Thank a relative or friend at Thanksgiving you haven’t seen for a while for something they did. Do it by Zoom if you can’t see them in person. 
  • Include little thank you notes in the holiday cards you send out to friends and family. 
  • Thank a teacher or other staff person who has helped make this challenging online environment semester a little easier for you. 
  • Thank a fellow student who brought something up in class that made you to look at an issue differently than you had before.  

Thank you for the privilege of your time reading this article.