How to Cultivate an Attitude of GratitudeNone By Jessica Cassity
Thinking about all you have to appreciate can boost your happiness and your overall sense of well-being, according to psychologists. (It helps explain why Thanksgiving scores so high among American holidays. It's topped only by Christmas, according to one recent poll.)
The Effects of Gratitude Last Longer Than You Think
Feeling and expressing gratitude can make you happy in the moment—just think back to the joy you felt the last time a friend helped you out or your partner cooked a gourmet dinner—and a growing mound of evidence shows that giving thanks can also have a lasting effect on your mood. One study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who wrote and delivered a heartfelt thank-you letter actually felt happier for a full month after, and the same researchers discovered that writing down three positive events each day for a week kept happiness levels high for up to six months.
Tools for Thankfulness
So how can you cultivate a growing sense of gratitude—and its positive side-benefits—on your own? It turns out that the tools used by psychologists in research studies—namely a gratitude journal and some thank-you notes—are some of the best ones for boosting gratitude both in and out of the lab. By writing down positive things that happen to you and actively acknowledging those who have helped you, you become better at recognizing the good in your life, which naturally helps you feel more grateful and thankful more often. You can also find dozens of fun gratitude activities on Happify!
What Grateful People Have in Common
Of course, the actual goal isn't to have a notebook full of your declarations of gratitude, but rather to make gratitude a default feeling. According to researchers at Eastern Washington University, there are four primary characteristics of grateful people, and these are the ones that thank-you notes and a gratitude journal can help tap, strengthen, and invigorate. People who experience the most gratitude (and therefore the positive effects) tend to:
- Feel a sense of abundance in their lives
- Appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being
- Recognize and enjoy life's small pleasures
- Acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude
Train Your Brain for Gratitude
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