Being thankful can make you happier, study

Consciously training our sense of gratitude is good for mental health.


A new study has evaluated the impact of gratitude on mental wellbeing. The study conducted by the University of Twente found that consciously training our sense of gratitude is good for mental health. People who live their lives with a sense of gratitude are happier and less likely to suffer from psychological issues.

This is for the first time scientists have demonstrated this convincingly.

Past studies into exercises to train people’s sense of gratitude were not able to discern much effect. Thus, scientists decided to study the impact of a six-week training, where 217 participants trained their sense of gratitude.

Gratitude means focusing on what is good in our life. This includes being able to take pleasure in simple things, being aware of abundance and appreciating things that other people do for us. Training gratitude is not a trick to be happy quickly. It is developing a new attitude to life. Life becomes less self-evident, and that makes people more flexible.

The study shows that a six-week training in which participants trained their sense of gratitude led to an increase in gratitude and a sizeable increase in their sense of well-being. These effects also remained evident over the longer term.

Professor of Positive Mental Health Ernst Bohlmeijer explains“It is important to say that the idea is not to ignore negative experiences. Acknowledging difficulties and psychological distress while also appreciating the good things in life, is possible. That’s the essence of psychological resilience.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Ernst T. Bohlmeijer et al. Promoting Gratitude as a Resource for Sustainable Mental Health: Results of a 3-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial up to 6 Months Follow-up. DOI: 10.1007/s10902-020-00261-5
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