THE BLOG
09/14/2015 05:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Gratitude Is Good for You

If you've been anywhere near social media in the last few years, you'll know that gratitude is good for. You might even have seen quotes like this:

"Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands" -- Brother David Steindl-Rast

Or:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." -- Melody Beattie

But despite dramatic the uptake on social media, gratitude is not just a pop psychology trend. There's solid research supporting the idea that we benefit from bringing gratitude into our daily lives.

Back in 2003, researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough published some ground breaking research on the effects of a regular gratitude practice in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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They asked hundreds of randomly assigned participants to either record things that they were grateful for, record hassles from their day or simple record any events or circumstances that had affected them in their daily life.

They found that those who were assigned to gratitude condition:
  • reported more happiness and joy,
  • experienced fewer symptoms of physical illness,
  • spent more time exercising,
  • were more optimistic and satisfied with their lives,
  • reported increased positive affect and decreased negative affect,
  • were more likely to offer emotional support to others,
  • felt an increased sense of connection with others, and
  • even slept more hours and with a better quality of sleep each night.

What I find amazing about these results is they came about from spending only a couple minutes each day reflecting on gratitude.

There aren't many things that we can do that take so little time, yet have such a profound effect on our happiness and well being.

"The root of joy is gratefulness... It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful." -- Brother David Steindl-Rast

I created the global photographic happiness project Capturing Gratitude to tap into this immense power of gratitude. When I started my own photographic gratitude experiment, I was amazed by how much of an impact taking photographs of things I was grateful for had on my mental health. With very little effort on my behalf, I very quickly began to feel a deep sense of joy and contentment, that has enabled me to ride the ups and downs of daily life with ease and grace.

There are many ways to cultivate gratitude, but my favorite is to take photographs.

Taking gratitude photographs gives us the opportunity to:
  • Pause throughout the day to notice, reflect and appreciate,
  • Get creative (with technology that most of us are carrying around with us anyway),
  • Create an album of grateful moments that we can look back on at the times we need it the most, and
  • Share our photographs and connect with others around us in a way that it meaningful and authentic.

World Gratitude Day is on Sept. 21, 2015, and Capturing Gratitude is celebrating with 30 days of gratitude photography.

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Would you like to find out how happy you are with a daily gratitude practice?

Come join the gratitude revolution to find out!

Capturing Gratitude is a free project aimed at increasing worldwide happiness, and by signing up you can download the Gratitude Interviews eBook and take part in the 30 day of gratitude eCourse. It's all free.

We're changing the world, one grateful moment at a time.

Sign up now at www.capturinggratitude.com.