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Gratitude is saying "thank you." But it's more than a thank-you to a friend for a favor or gift. Gratitude is saying thanks for everything that is important to you and good in your life. You are thankful for a gift, but you're also thankful to watch a sunset, do well at a sport, or to be alive. You see your life and your experiences as a gift.
Gratitude is linked to well-being. One group of three studies suggests that people who practice gratitude appear to be more optimistic, pleased with their lives, and connected to others when compared to those who reflect on daily hassles or on everyday events.1 Another study suggests that gratitude in teens is linked to feeling good about life, being optimistic, and having a good social network.2
You also might find that gratitude may help decrease anger. If you find yourself thinking about how someone has wronged you, shift your attention to someone else who has been there to support you.
Gratitude may also be linked to resilience, which is having an "inner strength" that helps you bounce back after stressful situations. The traits mentioned above, such as optimism and connection with others, are often found in people who are resilient.
To practice gratitude, you say "thanks" and you appreciate what's important to you.
Emmons RA, McCullough ME (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2): 377–389.
Froh JJ, et al. (2009). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence:
Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence, 32(3): 633–650.
February 19, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Catherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral Health
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