A positive psychology study, at UC Berkeley, tested the effects of gratitude on 300 students who reported low mental health.
They were put into 3 different groups at random.
Group 1 had to write a letter of gratitude to someone else.
Group 2 had to write their feelings toward negative experiences.
Group 3 didn’t have to do any writing.
Compared with the others, group 1 reported to dramatically improved their mental health for as long as up to 12 weeks AFTER the writing exercises had ended.
So what happened?
The gratitude writing steered participants away from constantly affirming toxic negative self talk, instead focussing on the things they were thankful for.
Other studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal and writing brief reflections of moments you were grateful for helps you sleep better, feel more energetic and compassionate.
The way you express gratitude is actually less important than the frequency of doing it.
Look for at least one good thing that happened today to be grateful for.
When thinking about it or writing it down, be specific.
Not just “I appreciate my family” but “I am grateful for my brother calling me to check in yesterday”, not just “I am grateful for food” but “I am grateful for the farmers who farm the coffee beans that I get to grind up and brew into coffee each morning”
Gratitude works because we adjust what we focus on. We give less weight to the negatives and draw attention to the positives.
Here’s a challenge for you:
Take one moment every day and look for something positive and specific that you are genuinely grateful for.
Let us know how it goes!