According to well established research, cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” clearly demonstrates a boost in happiness, more energy, hopefulness, and an increase in more frequent positive emotions.
Regular, mindful practice of this exercise is important in deriving the full benefits of the practice. This exercise goes beyond just “counting” your blessings to examine what you might have done that contributed to this blessing. Additionally, practicing gratitude can involve an expressed gratitude to God.
Try to complete this exercise every night, either in written form or as a mental exercise. Ask yourself what three things (or more) happened in your day for which you are grateful. Next, think about what you might have done that contributed.
Some people like to use a gratitude journal for this type of exercise. Use your creativity in adapting this exercise to your personality, circumstances, and needs.
I have been using an app called Gratitude Journal to help me remember the benefits of frequent practice. The app is set to remind me every 24 hours to enter my gratitude entries. Love it! You can find other apps for both Android and iPhone.
By doing this faithfully, you should notice a shift in your thinking and mood. Research has shown benefits within two weeks of daily practice.
- I am grateful for…
- What contributed to this…
Great research to support the benefits of living with gratitude.
Expressing gratitude has a short-term positive effect (several weeks) on happiness levels (up to a 25% increase). Those who are typically or habitually grateful are happier than those who aren’t habitually grateful
Park, N. Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. (2004). “Strengths of character and well-being among youth,” Unpublished manuscript, U. of Rhode Island.
People who noted weekly the things they were grateful for increased their happiness levels 25% over people who noted their complaints or were just asked to note any events that had occurred during the week.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389
A study was done by Martin Seligman and Jeff Levy with people who scored as severely depressed in a depression inventory. Participants were instructed to recall and write down three good things that happened each day for 15 days. 94% of them went from severely depressed to mildly to moderately depressed during that time.
Cited in Authentic Happiness, Seligman, Martin E. P., 2002, NY: Free Press