Making time for gratitude more than once a year

Published 11:59am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Article written by Laura Ellington

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast at

November and, particularly, Thanksgiving are times we traditionally feel grateful for our family, friends and all the wonderful things we have.

Thinking about those things makes us feel happy, so why is it that we do so only once a year? New research shows that counting our blessings more often can relieve anxiety, decrease depression, improve relationships and reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. One study has shown that expressing our gratitude on a daily basis can improve happiness by 25 percent and will make us healthier to boot. If you doubt this, give it a try right now. Put the paper down and take the next few minutes to begin to list all the things for which you are grateful.

This works because it reminds us of the positive things in our lives, such as having a roof over our heads. More and more people are losing their homes and having to double up with other families. It turns bad things into good: perhaps you had a bad day at work, but at least you have a job. It reminds us of what is important in our lives, even something so simple as a satisfying meal. Most notably, it reminds us to say, “Thank you.” How often do we say “Thank you” for the simple things in life that we take for granted, such as: running water, a pretty day, or the fact that the car started this morning.

According to Harvard Health Publications, Positive Psychology research shows gratitude is associated with greater happiness, improved health and better ability to cope with adversity. There are numerous ways in which one can cultivate gratitude on a regular basis. Here are just a few.

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