5 Reasons Giving Thanks Can Improve Your Life

Posted on December 17, 2014

Photo: flickr

If you're older than 9, it's hard to resist the urge to roll your eyes when someone at the Thanksgiving table suggests, "Let's all go around the room and share what we're thankful for!" It's a pretty corny holiday ritual you mostly do to keep your mom or your most momlike friends happy, but a robust body of psychological research actually links these sorts of gratitude exercises with increased happiness, health, and overall well-being.

For a 2011 paper in Applied Psychology, researchers asked a group of study participants to keep a gratitude journal (something many of the studies on this subject have in common). These participants were all students who said they had trouble sleeping "because their minds are racing with stimulating thoughts and worries," the researchers write.

For 15 minutes before going to sleep, the students were instructed to write about the things they were thankful for in a journal. After a week of this, these students reported both quieter minds at night and improved sleep than they'd experienced before starting their gratitude journals.

Giving someone a long overdue thank-you will increase your own happiness, and the mood-boosting effects of that simple act of gratefulness could last as long as a month. That's according to a study led by Martin Seligman, the pioneer of the modern positive-psychology movement.

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Source material from new York Magazine

Mental Health News