What are you grateful for this holiday season? Research in the area of gratitude has found a number of benefits. Foremost, gratitude is associated with high positive affect, low negative affect, and a high satisfaction with life. In terms of relationships, gratitude is associated with perceived quality of relationships and relates to one’s willingness to forgive others. Furthermore, it seems to strengthen relationships and contributes to relationship connection and satisfaction (Wood et al., 2010).
A number of studies have also found that gratitude is associated with subjective well-being. Likewise, gratitude is linked to a greater overall sense that one’s life has meaning, and that a person is living their life to the fullest. Finally, gratitude is strongly and positively correlated with authentic living and negatively correlated with self-alienation (Wood et al., 2010).
Connecting with a sense of gratitude on a daily basis can be simple. Researchers have concluded that an effective way to produce reliably higher levels of positive emotion and improve well-being is to write daily about the aspects of life that one is grateful for (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Try the following practices to increase gratitude in your daily life.
Contemplate your objects of gratitude and reflect on why you are grateful
Keep a gratitude journal (write three things you are grateful for each day)
Express gratitude directly to others and express your appreciation of them
Be mindful of small moments of beauty throughout your day
Practice seeing the opportunity for growth in your mistakes
Be thankful when you learn something new
Eat mindfully and connect with a sense of gratitude for the food you have
Include an act of kindness in your life each day
Write a card or call someone you haven’t seen in a while and tell them something nice.
Thank the people who serve you in the community
Say thank you for the little things
Ultimately, connecting with a sense of gratitude and taking time to be mindful or express gratitude is a helpful practice all year around. Perhaps now is a good time to start connecting with gratitude more often in small ways and build a habit of gratitude to carry forward into the new year.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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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.
Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905.