“Count Your Blessings” – Are People with an Attitude of Gratitude Happier?

“Count Your Blessings” – Are People with an Attitude of Gratitude Happier?

Imagine, for one month, each day, you would sit down and write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. Do you think you could come up with new things every day? Would it benefit you? 

Maybe you have already heard of gratitude lists. People from various fields concerned with mental well-being recommend this practice. Here is one example of how this can work: 

Take some time for yourself (10-20 min at the end of each day) to think back of the past day and write down five things - large or small - that you are grateful for. 

This is what Cunha, Pellanda and Rappold asked their participants to do for two weeks in their experimental study (2019). 

They compared them to two control groups; one “neutral” group that was merely instructed to write down five things that affected them in some way on each of the fourteen days and a “hassles” group recalling five annoying things they experienced. All participants responded to scales assessing positive and negative affect, depression, happiness and life satisfaction at three different time points: prior to the intervention, right after the intervention and two more weeks after the intervention. 

They were able to show that gratitude improved positive affect, happiness and life satisfaction, and that it reduced negative affect and depression. They pointed out that the largest effect could be observed in subjective well-being. 

So, “counting our blessings” may enable us to recognize and appreciate things in daily life we usually take for granted. 

To read more, click here to read Emmons’ and Shelton’s chapter elaborating on gratitude from different viewpoints and if gratitude is also possible in unpleasant life circumstances.

– Article by Susanne Reinders, Psychology Student at Maastricht University Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience

References

Cunha, L. F., Pellanda, L. C., & Reppold, C. T. (2019). Positive psychology and gratitude interventions: A randomized clinical trial. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 584.

Emmons, R. A., & Shelton, C. M. (2002). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. Handbook of positive psychology, 18, 459-471.

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