Gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. Having a grateful disposition – being the kind of person who notices and appreciates the positive in the world –is associated with greater physical and mental well-being. Grateful people experience more positive emotion, feel better about themselves, are less depressed and are more satisfied with life in general.

We can become more grateful through practice. There is a good evidence that cultivating the practice of gratitude leads to increases in physical and mental well-being. Compared to keeping lists of hassles or neutral events, keeping a gratitude list has been shown to:

Increase: well-being, optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness
Reduce: negative feelings, depression, worry, body dissatisfaction, and physical symptoms

How to keep a gratitude journal
Gratitude researchers have some advice for keeping a gratitude journal:
• Write it down. Don’t just make a list in your head. Write about the people and things you are grateful for in your life. Keep a record so you can review it.
• Be specific. The more specific you are the better. For example, “I am grateful that my children are healthy and doing well in school, and that I have a loving relationship with someone who truly cares for me” is better than “I am grateful for my family”.
• Focus on people. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful is more effective than writing about things.
• Deeper is better. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you are grateful is more beneficial than making a shallow list of many things.
• Savor surprises. Recording events that were unexpected or surprising tend to elicit stronger feelings of gratitude.
• Set your intention. Your motivation to be happier plays an important part in your development of gratitude. Like many things in life the more you engage the more you will get out of it – if you just go through the motions it will be less effective.
• Be consistent. Once you have set your intention to record things you are grateful for honoring your intention by sticking to it. Set aside fifteen minutes at a specific time of day to complete your journal.
• Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) has been shown to be more effective than writing daily.