CREDOS : Gratitude — II

Gregg Easterbrook

In an experiment with college students, those who kept a “gratitude journal,” a weekly record of things they should feel grateful for, achieved better physical health, were more optimistic, exercised more regularly, and described themselves as happier than a control group of students who kept no journals but had the same overall measures of health, optimism, and exercise when the experiment began. (Researchers use frequency of exercise as a barometer for general well-being because it is an objective measure that links to subjective qualities; people who exercise three or more times per week tend to have better indicators of well-being.)

Grateful people are more spiritually aware and more likely to appreciate the interconnectedness of all life. These findings are part of an emerging trend in the field of psychology away from psychological studies on pathology and mental illness and toward trying to understand what makes for mental well-being.

“Psychology has generally ignored the positive emotions,” says Robert Emmons, a psychologist and leading figure in the new field of gratitude research.

“We tend to study the things that can go wrong in people’s minds but not the things that can go right. Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress, and to achieve a positive sense of the self.” —