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The Selfish Reason to Practice Gratitude

As a child one of the first things we learn is to say is, "Thank you!" We are told it is good manners. Science is now showing us that grateful people are actually happier too! So make sure you mean it the next time you say, "thank you" and practice gratitude in your everyday life.

"Study after study has found a robust association between higher levels of gratitude and wellbeing, including protection from stress and depression, more fulfilling relationships, better sleep and greater resilience. Simple exercises that people can do on their own – such as spending two weeks writing a daily list of three things for which they are grateful – have been found to increase life satisfaction, decrease worry and improve body image, with the beneficial effects lasting for up to six months. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and a world authority on gratitude, has advocated that interventions such as this be used by therapists to help their patients.

Gratitude was one of the most powerful variables that personality psychologists could find when it came to predicting wellbeing, over and above most known factors, from wealth and health to other personality traits such as optimism, Sirois says. “There is something very special about gratitude. It is something wholly unique, unto itself, that, from a statistical standpoint, rises up to the top of the milk, like cream,” she says."

This takes the idea of "count your blessings" one step further. Not only do we need to work on being an optimist rather than a pessimist, but also show the people in your life that you are grateful for them and what they do.

The article suggests bringing back the handwritten letter.

  • Write your spouse a love letter telling them the reasons why you are grateful.

  • Send your parents a handwritten letter conveying your appreciation for them.

  • Give your colleagues or friends a simple thank you note next time they help you out.

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