"Look on the bright side," we say. "Count your blessings." "Be thankful." Reminders to be grateful are all around us. And most of us really do try to accentuate the positive things in our lives because we know that focusing on the good is a way to feel happier. But did you know that new research is demonstrating that there are lasting physical and social benefits to gratitude?
A study at the University of California at Davis split participants into one of three groups. Participants in the first group journaled every week, listing five things they were grateful for. Participants in the second group wrote about hassles or disappointments, and participants in the final group wrote about events that had simply affected them, whether positive or negative. After 10 weeks, those participants who'd written about things they were grateful for were 25% happier than members of the other groups. They also exercised more frequently and reported fewer health problems.
This study isn't the only groundbreaking gratitude study in recent months. Other studies have shown that journaling about the things you feel grateful for can help you sleep better, connect better with others, and strengthen your relationships. All this from just a few moments spent remembering and appreciating the good in your life.
A daily journal, whether at night or in the morning, is something researchers suggest for those of us interested in seeing the benefits for ourselves. Why not try making a list each day, and see what happens? Post a comment below (or on our Facebook page) listing 5 things you're grateful for. Make your statement by February 29, 2012 at 11:59 pm PST, and we'll send 5 lucky participants a copy of our Gratitude Every Day journal--a great way to incorporate this practice into every day!