Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Scientific Facts Behind the Feeling of Gratitude

"Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life." - Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough

Robert A. Emmons is a leading researcher in the field of psychology of gratitude, professor at UC-Davis and author of four books on the subject. Together with Michael E. McCullough they have conducted a number of experimental studies in the field, here's a summary of their findings:
1)  In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003);
2) 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 compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions;
3) A daily self-guided gratitude exercises with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others);
4) Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another;
5) In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group;
6) Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
I've seen my share of amazing things happening to me after my year of thanksgiving was done, and there were so much more to it than just the above. Any of you who have tried to practice gratitude too seen any of the aforementioned benefits or more? Please do share!

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  1. I had no idea about these stats! It really pays to be grateful and kind in life, doesn't it? Wow!

  2. I can imagine this is totally on-point. Verbalizing what you're thankful and grateful for helps you to recognize it when you're down. I imagine it could ONLY bring good things.

  3. incentive to take up your suggestion and starting a gratitude journal? i think so!

  4. I can definitely see how being a grateful person would be good for one's health!

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  6. These are new to me. I have to be more grateful then! ;)
    (Sorry for deleting the previous comment. Double post)

    Definitely, Maybe

  7. I kept a daily gratitude journal at one point, but was only able to maintain it for a month or so. I should really get around to resurrecting the old thing! Your gratitude articles are always so interesting and informative. THANK YOU for sharing this! :-)

  8. Very cool post!
    Love the science behind gratitude!


  9. This is exactly why I have a "things I'm grateful for" notebook! It's done wonders for me and my attitude towards life.

    Happy Friday Dear! xo

  10. Today, I read this post again and I am drawn to the last one...Children who have a good gratitude will have positive thinking towards the school and their family... which is a great advice for me parenting.
    ^O^ Thanks, Julia.

    Oh, yes, if you ever wear the bright color ensemble, please take a pic. of yourself for me. ^^
    I'd love to post it on my blog.

    xo Rachel

  11. Wow! It really pays off to be thankful. I have always felt like I was a pretty positive/happy person. Keeping my thankful journal has helped me realize that its the little things in life that are the most beautiful. Sure I am thankful for my car, but the little lady bug in the garden is what really made my day!

  12. Hi Julia,

    I could not begin to list the benefits! Everything from enhanced relationships and care for the environment to being able to enjoy each moment and not get anxious about the future. It is all good, great and wonderful Toni

  13. That is really cool! I think that taking the time to think of what you're grateful for inspires you to continue doing the things that you need to do to live a healthy and happy life. I've definitely noticed that I'm more likely to work out and write (which is my passion) when I'm writing down when I'm recording things like this. When I don't take that time to remember what I'm thankful for in life I start to get run down and I give the "bad" things in life more power than they deserve, which continues to get me down.

  14. Been doing a journal for about a month, my workmate said I was joyous yesterday. A year ago i was nearly dead. Yay!!!

  15. I am thankful for my dad, it is hos birthday today. Even though he passed three years ago I am still learning from his way of life. Thanks Ian Campbell Williams

  16. I had no idea about these stats! It really pays to be grateful and kind in life, doesn't it? Wow!

  17. I've begun my own online gratitude journal due to the homework given to me by a Bible study teacher. Our homework was to write down 5 things every week of the things we were grateful for. I didn't even know about this book until another Christian friend told me about it. I've been knee-deep in a research project, so perhaps when I take a break from it, I will be able to read the book all the way through this time in a couple of weeks. Thanks for reminding me about it. =0) Have a great day!


I appreciate you taking the time to connect and share your thoughts, so thank you for your comment! And while you're at it... Why not tell me what you're thankful for today? ;-)