Researchers studying gratitude report that practicing gratitude can improve your health and well-being. Robert Emmons, Ph.D. and colleagues at UC Davis randomly divided study participants into three groups, each which made weekly entries in a journal. One group had to write about five things they were grateful for. Another group was assigned to write about five things they found annoying or irritating. And a control group was asked to list five
events that affected them in some way. At the end of the three-week study, those who focused on gratitude reported feeling better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the upcoming week and reported fewer health problems when compared to the group that focused on hassles, or the control group.

Other research on gratitude reports:

  • Study 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 when compared to study participants who did not focus on gratitude.
  • In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of positive moods, better sleep quality and duration and more optimistic rating's of one's life, when compared to a control group.

Cultivating gratitude

If you would like to increase your focus on gratitude, the suggestions below can help:

Maintain a gratitude journal

Set aside time each day to record at least three to
five things that you are grateful for. Psychologists say this is probably the most effective
strategy to help you create the habit of focusing on the positive in your life.

Create a list of benefits.

Create a list of benefits in your life and ask yourself, "To what extent do I take these for granted?" Seeing these benefits in writing can help you become more mindful of the good things in your life.

Use visual reminders.

Use visual cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Put Post-It notes listing the things you are grateful for on your desk, your refrigerator or the steering wheel of your car. Or use other devices that signal you to pause and count your blessings.