Gratitude: The Key to Happiness?

One of the books on my wish list is Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E. P. Seligman. The book includes a suggestion I’ve seen many times: daily recording the good things about your life.

Seligman suggests taking time each night before bed to write down three things that went well during the day, and write why each thing happened. Who did something to bring about the good thing?

Paper Poppy  Philip Stevens Public Domain |

Others have suggested doing much the same thing each morning – writing down three to five things for which you are grateful.

Those who have done this say it made their lives better, but is there any real proof gratitude can change how we feel? Yes, there is!

A study done by the University in Toronto with moderately depressed individuals found gratitude reduced depression – even six months after a week of gratitude exercises. Dr. Robert A. Emmons did a study on people in general, and found ten weeks of gratitude exercises resulted in a 25% increase in self-perceived happiness.

Would daily recording things for which you are grateful make you happier? Why not give it five minutes a day for ten days and see what happens? You have very little to lose, and a great deal to gain.

What am I grateful for today?

  • Those who have served to protect my freedom.
  • My bride, who loves me so well.
  • The friends I have – both near and far.

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Image Credit: Philip Stevens Public Domain |

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