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Sure, having more money can be pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaptation we quickly get used to it and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first.
While in a grateful mood, we will feel gratitude more frequently, when we do feel gratitude it will be more intense and held for longer, and we will feel gratitude for more things at the same time.
After repeated exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus, we tend to experience less of the emotion. Hedonic adaptation gives unparalleled resiliency and keeps us motivated to achieve ever greater things. The pursuit of wealth and power has been shown in dozens of studies to be a highly inefficient method of increasing well-being and happiness.
Applying that same level of energy towards strengthening one’s relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on much more reliably creates positive, transformative change. Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people. Americans are inundated with materialistic role models every day: from advertisements which highlight materialistic themes, to celebrity culture which glorifies the rich and frivolous, to business culture in which we are told our dreams should be to be rich and powerful. Those who are insecure, that is, those that have not had their basic psychological needs met (e.g. Gratitude has caused me to focus less on things that don’t matter, like making money, and more on the things that do, like my family and this blog. I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities. Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude. This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on their acts of benevolence).
Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you. Gratitude has been shown in multiple studies to make people kinder and more friendly, and that because of that, grateful people have more social capital. Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. If it’s thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way. In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep. Gratitude can’t cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning. Gratitude encourages pro-health behavior like exercising and paying attention to health risks. Gratitude and vitality are strongly correlated – the grateful are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor. Do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude, does gratitude lead to increased energy, or is something else going on? People with high levels of vitality tend to have some of the same traits that highly grateful people do, like high levels of optimism and life satisfaction. In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.a2 No other study has yet to replicate these results. According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the fact to have been caused by the kindness of others.  Gratitude doesn’t just make us happier, it is happiness in and of itself!
The personality trait of envy has a correlation of -.39 with the personality trait of gratitude. This is likely because an attitude of envy and an attitude of gratitude are largely incompatible. Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique.
Gratitude helps us perceive kindness, which we have a natural tendency to want to reciprocate.
Gratitude makes us happier and more energetic, both of which are highly linked to pro-social behavior. Scientists have put numbers to our intuition and experience, creating an appreciation to naggy ratio.
Building regular practices of gratitude into your marriage is an easy but effective way of raising your positivity ratio.
Does the positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of a marriage, or does it simply reflect underlying happiness or conflict?
Timely, sincere, specific, behavior focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism.
Because of our culture, expressions of gratitude are often difficult to give – cultivating an attitude of gratitude will help. I’ve seen firsthand the powerful difference between interacting with subordinates more with praise, and interacting with some more with criticism.
Those who are more grateful are more likely to help others, and to pay it forward, that is, to take on mentoring relationships. The first level is simple – those who are grateful are more social and also more likely to ask for help. In one study, participants were asked to write down those goals which they wished to accomplish over the next two months.
Decision making is really tiring – so tiring that we automate to our subconscious much of the reasoning that goes behind making a decision. In one study, doctors were given a list of ailments from a hypothetical patient and also given a misleading piece of information—that the patient had been diagnosed at another hospital as having lupus. Those who are insecure have difficulty focusing because many of their mental resources are tied up with their worries.
As gratitude has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce insecurity, this means that it can help us focus and improve our productivity. Gratitude is no cure-all, but it is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness. Positive memories among grateful persons#, Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social 23, pp. The research for this post took an extremely long time (~25-30 hours), but because I’m such a nerd, that was fun and just replaced my usual reading time.
The html, css, javascript, and creating the images took 5-6 hours, but once again is fun, so no problem. Writing the eBook companion took about 5-7 hours, and writing the actual post took ~6-10 hours, and was the most difficult part.
Amit, I don’t spend that much time blogging, but I definitely do with music, hilarious to see you document it all here.
And I am grateful that this post was so jam packed with ideas and things to be grateful about.


Did you leave the habit behind in the past because you weren’t seeing immediate benefits?
Amit, the main reason I quit writing my gratitudes is that I’m easily distracted and very forgetful. It seemed that almost everyone was into some sort of religion, so I did the obvious thing and went to church.
I suspect that few people in the universities and colleges of this country were more sincere about trying to find meaning, truth, and purpose in life than I was. During that time I noticed a small group of people -- eight students and two faculty members.
They were bothering me, so finally I looked over at one of the students, a good-looking woman (I used to think all Christians were ugly); and I leaned back in my chair (I didn't want the others to think I was interested) and I said, "Tell me, what changed your lives? There are probably more people in universities with misconceptions about Christianity than anywhere else in the world.
As I considered Christianity, my new friends challenged me intellectually to examine Jesus' life.
After many months of study, my mind came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ must have been who he claimed to be. That night I prayed four things to establish a relationship with Jesus Christ which has since transformed my life.
I'm sure you've heard various religious people talking about their personal bolt-of-lightning experience. After I made that decision for Christ, he entered my life and his love was so strong that he took the hatred and turned it upside down. Josh McDowell is an internationally known speaker, author, and traveling representative for Campus Crusade for Christ.
The actual gratitude produced during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful mood. It also kills our marriages – we get use to our amazing spouse (or kids, or job, or house, or car, or game). After three months of practice, I now have the ability to self-generate slight feelings of gratitude and happiness on command. Sign up for The Gratitude Hack, the course I created with the sole focus of helping you live a happier, more grateful life. If we perceive our current life to have more good, we will also believe our future life to have more good. Gratitude helps by reducing our tendency to compare ourselves to those with a higher social status. So while gratitude won’t make you lazy, over your lifetime you may end up earning less money. I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness.
This means that grateful people are actually more likely to receive help from others for no reason other than that they are liked and appreciated.
For example, a person with low self-esteem may view an act of kindness with a skeptical eye, thinking that the benefactor is trying to get something from them. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. A few years may not sound like much, but I know when I’m about to die I’d like to have a few more years! It could be because other gratitude studies testing this effect have been much shorter – in the range of one to three weeks, or it could be because this result was a fluke. Gratitude feels good, and if the benefits on this page are any indication – gratitude will make you stronger, healthier, and more successful. There are dozens of ways our memories get changed over time – we remember things as being worse than they actually were, as being longer or shorter, people as being kinder or crueler, as being more or less interesting, and so on. Here are two great books on the subject: Thinking, Fast and Slow (written by the founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman), and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness. Just like it is impossible to feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, gratitude is the act of perceiving benevolence, while envy and jealousy is the act of perceiving inadequacy. I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn’t relax.
Without the feeling of gratitude, we may not recognize when someone is helping us (the same way anger lets us know when someone is trying to harm us). More formally called the Losada ratio, it divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement and appreciation) made during a typical interaction by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism).
Criticism comes all too easily to most, while the ability to feel gratitude and express praise is often lacking. Those I’ve given more praise are more enthusiastic about working with me, express more creativity, and are so much more fun to work with. Two longitudinal studies showed that those with higher levels of gratitude actually developed more social capital than those with lower levels.
But I’m guessing you care more about getting help from mentors and benefactors than being a mentor yourself.
But it goes one step further – we all ask for help at one time, one of the key differences between one-off help and establishing a mentoring relationship is gratitude. Gratitude – when their wisdom, experience, and time are well appreciated, mentors will find enjoyment from the process, continuing to help you for weeks, months, or years. Those who were instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported more progress on achieving their goals at the end of the study. Even for the most basic of decisions, like where to go eat, there are dozens of variables to consider: how much time and money do I want to spend, what cuisine would I like today, am I willing to travel far, what should I get once I get there, and so on. Those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude find tokens of appreciation every day, on their own. On the other hand, those who are highly confident are able to be more productive, because they can direct more of their focus towards their work. This number has been floating around the internet, but I was actually unable to find the original source. Prediction of All-Cause Mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale Scores: Study of a College Sample During a 40-Year Follow-up Period. I too agree that gratitude reduces stress, but I hadn’t thought of this particular reason why. I’ll admit, I skimmed a little bit but you made it great for me to dive as deep as I wanted in different sections. I shouldn’t be too lazy to write an article for a website that can drive tons of traffic to my site.


I ask because I’m in the process of putting together some motivational information on how to make the habit stick. Being a leader, accepting some cause, giving yourself to it, and being popular might do it, I thought.
Religion is when human beings try to work their way to God through good works; Christianity is God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ to offer a relationship with himself. Some time ago I met a teaching assistant who remarked in a graduate seminar that "anyone who walks into a church becomes a Christian." I replied, "Does walking into a garage make you a car?" I was told that a Christian is somebody who genuinely believes in Christ. If you've ever been around happy people when you're miserable, you understand how they can bug you.
But I mention it because a lot of people need to have the same change in their lives, and I found the source of change: a relationship with Jesus Christ. I was able to look my father squarely in the eyes and say, "Dad, I love you." And I really meant it. Somebody in my own family, someone who knew me so well I couldn't pull the wool over his eyes, said to me, "Son, if God can do in my life what I've seen him do in yours, then I want to give him the opportunity." Right there my father prayed with me and trusted Christ for the forgiveness of his sins.
He has written more than fifty books, including the classics More Than A Carpenter and Evidence That Demands A Verdict. With more time and practice, I expect the intensity and duration of the generated feelings to increase. Click below to go to the specific category or benefit that interests you, or just continue scrolling. Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are biologically more likely to focus on the good (gratitude) than on the bad (personal disappointment, anxiety, etc…).
Both are prerequisites for feeling gratitude – someone who feels weak connections with others, and who believes in the illusion of self-sufficiency is unlikely to feel gratitude. I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others. A grateful person would take the kindness at face value, believing themselves to be a person worthy of receiving no-strings-attached kindness.
With positive psychology research on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years. I’ll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard!
A good rule of thumb is three or four positives for each negative means you’re doing well. If you deliberated on each of these decisions one at a time, your mind would be overwhelmed. Those who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis of lupus; those who did receive the gratitude were energized to expend more energy and to pay their gratitude forward onto their patient.
Optimism, coping, psychological distress, and high-risk sexual behavior among men at risk for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Please write an article for ProBlogger soon about how to make your blog posts look unlike anything else out there and be super interactive. I know I felt happier when I kept a gratitude journal, yet somehow mine is still sitting in the trunk of my car.
At the university I attended, the student leaders held the purse strings and threw their weight around. While everyone else seemed under the pile, they appeared to have a content, peaceful state about them that wasn't driven by circumstances. Two weeks after that decision we were all sitting around a table in the student union -- six students and two faculty members. They would be so happy and I would be so miserable that I'd literally get up and run right out of the student union. I was once in a debate with the head of the history department at a Midwestern university, and I said my life had been changed. I'd walk across the campus and my mind was like a whirlwind with conflicts bouncing around the walls. This list of benefits was compiled by aggregating the results of more than 40 research studies on gratitude. Those who have been disabled have a remarkable ability to rebound – initially they may feel terrible, but after months or years they are on average just as happy as everyone else. It is a psychological imperative to fight hedonic adaptation if we want to maximize happiness. A grateful emotion is triggered when we perceive an act of benevolence directed towards us.  Those who are dispositionally ungrateful are therefore less likely to perceive acts of benevolence, even if they are surrounded by a loving environment. It is good to know there’s something simple I can do for only five minutes each day, that will help me in those areas.
They were convinced that Jesus was God in human form who died on the cross for the sins of mankind, that he was buried, that he arose three days later, and that he could change a person's life today. I used to wait for a Christian to speak up in the classroom so I could tear him or her up one side and down the other, and beat the professor to the punch. It came to the point where I'd go to bed at ten at night, and I wouldn't get to sleep until four in the morning. He interrupted me with "McDowell, are you trying to tell us that God really changed your life in the 20th century? Flipped around, those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude are more likely to perceive an environment of benevolence, which in turn causes their brains to assume they are in an environment full of social support, which in turn kills insecurity and materialism. It was great having everyone know me, making the decisions, and spending the university's money to get speakers I wanted. What areas?" After 45 minutes he said, "OK, that's enough." Let me tell you a few of the things I told him and the audience that day. If you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions because Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives. Only once in 14 years have I exploded (and when I blew it that time, I made up for it for about six years!). I would wake up Monday morning (usually with a headache because of the night before) and my attitude was, "Well, here goes another five days." I endured Monday through Friday. I didn't care if Christ did walk on water or turn water into wine, I didn't want any party-pooper around.
What I found in this relationship with Jesus wasn't absence of conflict but the ability to cope with it. There were times I'd go out in the barn and see my mother beaten so badly she couldn't get up, lying in the manure behind the cows. When we had friends over, I would take my father out, tie him up in the barn, and park the car around the silo.



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