The Power of Gratitude—All Year Long

Even during busy Nutcracker season, remember to practice gratitude. Here: Pacific Northwest Ballet, photo by Angela Sterling.

As a dancer, you have a lot to be thankful for, starting with the fact that you’re doing something you love every day. Though the spirit of gratitude is in the air at Thanksgiving, it can get lost in the stressful whirlwind of Nutcracker season and holiday family obligations. But remembering to be grateful pays off. Here are just a few health benefits of gratitude that can serve you well all year long:

Sharpen your mind: Research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that adolescents who were more grateful not only had higher overall satisfaction, but also higher grade point averages. Focusing on the positive may be just what you need next time you’re tackling a new role or struggling with difficult choreography.

Sleep better: A study in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that students who wrote in gratitude journals before bed felt less worried and were able to get a better night’s sleep. If anxiety strikes the night before an audition or performance, try jotting down a few reasons you’re grateful to be a part of it, instead of counting all the ways you feel unprepared.

Strengthen friendships: Research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science linked gratitude to higher levels of sensitivity and empathy towards others. Next time you’re competing for a highly-coveted role, think of how lucky you are to have peers who are as passionate about dance as you are, and who challenge you to do your best. It may help you better understand their perspective, too.

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