Mindfulness physical therapy, pain management, rehabilitation

Gratitude Practice Increases Positive Affect, Happiness and Life Satisfaction

Cunha and colleagues examined the effect of a gratitude intervention on mood and well-being.1 Participants were randomized to a Gratitude Group, a Hassles Group or a Neutral Events Group and asked to set aside 10–20 minutes at the end of the day to write a list of 5 items assessing the day’s activities according to their allocation group for 14 days. Participants in the Gratitude Group were asked to write about things they were grateful for. The Hassles Group wrote hassles or annoying situations that they faced. The Neutral Group was asked to write down events that somehow affected them. Outcomes were assessed on the positive affect and negative affect schedule, center for epidemiological studies depression scale, subjective happiness scale, and satisfaction with life scale pre- and post-intervention and at 14 days after the end of the intervention.

The main findings demonstrated that the gratitude intervention increased positive affect, subjective happiness and life satisfaction and reduced negative affect and depression symptoms. Increases in positive affect in the Gratitude Group were significantly greater than the changes observed in the control groups. In the other outcomes analyzed, changes were similar in the Gratitude and Neutral Events interventions. Similarities found between the Gratitude and Neutral Events Groups were proposed to be due to participants in the Neutral Group usually recording positive events from their day, turning it into an activity similar to the gratitude group.

This research suggests that the practice of writing down 5 things you are grateful for can have a beneficial influence on mood and life satisfaction. Given how easy it is to become disheartened by dwelling on negative events and the stressful challenges of living through a pandemic, this accessible practice of writing 5 things you are grateful for at the end of your day can offer a simple and effective tool for your stress management tool box to support your well-being.

1Cunha LF, Pellanda LC, Reppold CT. Positive psychology and gratitude interventions: a randomized clinical trial. Front Pshyol. 2019 Mar 21;10:584.