A Gratitude Practice to Increase Happiness

Robert Emmons has been investigating the psychological effects gratitude on happiness. One of his studies utilized a gratitude practice to increase happiness and health.

Emmons divided the participants into three groups. The group called the gratitude condition kept a weekly journal about five things they were grateful for. The group called the hassles condition wrote about five things they were displeased with. The group called the events condition wrote about five events. Here was one of Emmons’ finding:

“What did the first study reveal? At the end of the ten weeks, we examined differences between the three groups on all of the well-being outcomes that we measured at the outset of the study. Participants in the gratitude condition felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the future than participants in either of the other control conditions. To put it into numbers, according to the scale we used to calculate well-being, they were a full 25 percent happier than other participants.”

…participants in the gratitude condition felt more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, attentive, energetic, excited, determined, and strong than those in the hassles condition.
~ Robert A. Emmons from Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

I know this works because I experienced it myself over the past many years. I don’t even remember when I embraced the gratitude condition, but I know that my morning and evening gratitude practices have brought me much happiness and health. Each night and then the next morning, I recollect on three things that happened during the day. I say to myself, for example, “I am happy and grateful for the wonderful breakfast we had with Sara at Comforts yesterday.”

What are you grateful for today?

Books by Robert A. Emmons

Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Robert Emmons

The first major study of gratitude that shows how “wanting what we have” can measurably change people’s lives.

Did you know that there is a crucial component of happiness that is often overlooked? Robert Emmons—editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology[Read More…]

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