Simply put: the more gratitude one shows, the more happiness he or she experiences. And vice versa. According to the two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough, who have done much of the research on gratitude, numerous studies now bear this out.
In one such study, participants were asked to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
All of these groups were studied for ten weeks. At the end of the study period, it was determined that those who had written about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
Another leading researcher in this field is Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman. He tested the impact of various assignments given to help the mood of over 400 people. When the subjects’ assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, the participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. Moreover, this impact was greater than that from any other assignment, with benefits lasting for as long as a month.
While it is important to note that studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect, most of the studies published on this topic still support an association between gratitude and an individual's well-being.
So, how happy are you on this day after Thanksgiving? Accordingly, how appreciative have you been? Remember: as goes the one, so goes the other!