Be grateful — it's good for you

January, with its focus on new beginning and resolutions, might be the least grateful time of the year. We are focused forward on what we want to become, and what needs to change or be different. We’ve just finished celebrating, so let’s put all that behind us and move on.

I guess I’m a bit out of sync.

This January, I’ve been thinking a lot about things I’m grateful for, and it turns out, being grateful is really good for me! Here’s a summary of some findings about the efficacy of gratitude:

  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
  • A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
  • Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.
  • In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.
  • Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

Here’s a terrific video from an Entrepreneurs Organization presentation that makes some business applications of Gratitude.

How can you be more grateful? Would that make a difference?

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