The Essential Link between Happiness and Gratitude

August 15, 2013 Darcy Jacobsen

I cried when I watched it. I’m not too proud to say it.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the demonstrable link between gratitude and happiness. But when you actually see it in action, as in the video below, it is incredibly powerful. So I have a good excuse for getting all weepy. Really!

What’s it all about? Well, studies have proven that when people are given the opportunity to express their feelings of gratitude to someone else they actually become happier, themselves. 25% happier, according to some researchers. Whether expressed in person or in the written word, gratitude increases both happiness and “pro-social” behavior that enables people to be empathetic and generous.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that “gratitude is uniquely important to well-being and social life” and proved that over time gratitude leads to lower stress and depression and higher levels of social support. Work by researchers at UCDavis shows that “grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.”

In fact, consultant and founder of HappierHuman Amit Amin has assembled 26 separate academic articles and studies around the world that show the benefits of saying “Thank You.” Here are some highlights from those findings:

  • Expressions of gratitude reinforce pro-social and moral behavior.
  • Frequent opportunity to express gratitude leads to increased well-being, better health, better exercise habits, higher life satisfaction and increased optimism.
  • Grateful people get more sleep.
  • A one-time act of thoughtful gratitude produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness and 35% reduction in depressive symptoms that lasts for months.
  • Writing down one’s gratitude produces a cumulative effect that increases month over month.
  • Gratitude (which focuses us on others) and materialism (which focuses us on ourselves) are inversely related.
  • Those who are more grateful not only perceive the environment to be more benevolent, but actually make it so by helping others more frequently and accumulating social capital.

Still skeptical? Check out the video link below, where an agency called Soul Pancake tested out some of these findings. They asked people to write down as much as they could about someone who had made a powerful positive impression on their life, and then share that appreciation. They tested folks before and after and found happiness did indeed increase dramatically when people were able to express their gratitude.

Check it out, below!

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