What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that involves appreciating the positive aspects of one's life. Extensive research has shown that practicing gratitude can have significant benefits for individuals' well-being and health. Studies have demonstrated that engaging in gratitude exercises increases positive emotions, satisfaction with life, and overall well-being, while also reducing symptoms of depression and physical illness. Gratitude interventions have been associated with improvements in sleep quality, blood pressure, and engagement in healthy behaviours. Additionally, brief gratitude practices have been shown to effectively enhance positive emotions and reduce negative emotions. Overall, cultivating gratitude through various interventions can lead to a more positive outlook on life and contribute to improved well-being.
Why is it important?
Gratitude and having a gratitude journal are important for several reasons, as highlighted by various studies. Research conducted by Boggiss et al. (2020) and Jans-Beken et al. (2020) indicates that gratitude interventions have positive effects on physical health and health behaviours. Engaging in gratitude practices has been associated with improvements in sleep quality, reduced blood pressure, and increased engagement in healthy behaviours such as exercise and healthy eating habits. Moreover, studies by Dickens (2017), Emmons and McCullough (2003), and Emmons and Stern (2013) demonstrate that gratitude interventions promote positive change, enhance subjective well-being, and reduce symptoms of depression. Additionally, Hirshberg et al. (2019) found that brief gratitude practices can effectively reduce negative emotions and enhance positive emotions. These findings collectively emphasise the importance of gratitude and having a gratitude journal as tools for improving well-being, fostering positive emotions, and promoting physical and mental health.
Let's share a story:
In the pursuit of personal growth, I committed to a year of gratitude. Each day, I dedicated time to reflect on the blessings in my life, expressing appreciation for even the smallest things. This decision proved to be transformative, leading to incredible successes and a newfound resilience in the face of challenges.
As the days turned into months, my gratitude practice brought unexpected rewards. I received multiple awards for my work and found myself featured on the front covers of international magazines. Gratitude had unlocked a hidden potential within me, propelling me towards achievements I had never dreamed possible.
During that year, I also experienced the profound loss of my grandmother. Grief weighed heavily, but gratitude became my guiding light through the darkness. Expressing appreciation for the love and wisdom she had shared, I found solace and healing. Gratitude allowed me to see the beauty in every experience, shifting my perspective and helping me overcome difficult times.
Through the commitment to gratitude, my life was forever changed. It taught me to cherish the present moment, find blessings in adversity, and embrace abundance. With a heart full of gratitude, I continue to approach each day, ready to embrace the beauty and possibilities that lie ahead.
Here is 7 reasons why Gratitude Journals are important:
Enhanced Physical Health: Research (Boggiss et al., 2020) suggests that gratitude interventions, such as maintaining a gratitude journal, can have positive effects on physical health and health behaviors. It has been associated with improvements in sleep quality, reduced blood pressure, and increased engagement in healthy behaviors like exercise and healthy eating.
Promotes Positive Change: Gratitude interventions, including gratitude journaling, have been found to promote positive change and personal growth (Dickens, 2017). Engaging in a gratitude practice can enhance subjective well-being, increase positive emotions, and reduce symptoms of depression, leading to overall improvement in mental health and emotional well-being.
Increased Subjective Well-being: Studies (Emmons & McCullough, 2003) have demonstrated that gratitude exercises, such as counting blessings in a journal, can significantly enhance subjective well-being. Regularly acknowledging and appreciating the positive aspects of life can lead to higher levels of life satisfaction and overall happiness.
Effective Psychotherapeutic Intervention: Gratitude has been recognized as a psychotherapeutic intervention (Emmons & Stern, 2013). Incorporating gratitude practices, like maintaining a gratitude journal, into therapy sessions can be beneficial in reducing distress, improving emotional regulation, and enhancing overall psychological well-being.
Resilience in Times of Stress: Research (Hirshberg et al., 2019) suggests that gratitude practices, including journaling, can cultivate resilience in the face of stress. Engaging in a gratitude journaling practice during challenging times can shift focus towards achievements, blessings, and abundance, helping individuals maintain a positive mindset and cope effectively with adversity.
Improved Psychological Well-being and Engagement: A pilot study conducted by Benjamin and Holliman explored the influence of a gratitude journal intervention on university students' psychological well-being and engagement. The study found that maintaining a gratitude journal led to enhanced psychological well-being and increased engagement among the participants. This suggests that gratitude journaling can positively impact students' overall mental health and academic experience.
Enhanced Academic Motivation: Nawa and Yamagishi conducted a study investigating the effects of a 2-week online gratitude journal intervention on academic motivation in university students. The results showed that participating in the gratitude journaling intervention led to increased academic motivation among the students. This indicates that gratitude practices, such as journaling, can positively influence students' motivation levels and potentially improve their academic performance.
Including these additional studies, the benefits of maintaining a gratitude journal can be summarised as follows:
Enhanced Physical Health
Promotes Positive Change
Increased Subjective Well-being
Effective Psychotherapeutic Intervention
Resilience in Times of Stress
Improved Psychological Well-being and Engagement (Benjamin & Holliman)
Enhanced Academic Motivation (Nawa & Yamagishi)
These findings collectively highlight the importance and value of gratitude journaling for various aspects of individuals' lives, from overall well-being to academic success.
Benjamin, J., & Holliman, A. (2022). Examining the influence of a gratitude journal intervention on university students' psychological wellbeing and engagement (a pilot study). The Psychology of Education Review, 46(2).
Boggiss, A. L., Consedine, N. S., Brenton-Peters, J. M., Hofman, P. L., & Serlachius, A. S. (2020). A systematic review of gratitude interventions: Effects on physical health and health behaviors. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 135, 110165.
Dickens, L. R. (2017). Using gratitude to promote positive change: A series of meta-analyses investigating the effectiveness of gratitude interventions. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 39(4), 193-208.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (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.
Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a psychotherapeutic intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 69(8), 846-855.
Hirshberg, M. J., Goldberg, S. B., Schaefer, S. M., Flook, L., Findley, D., & Davidson, R. J. (2019). Divergent effects of brief contemplative practices in response to an acute stressor: A randomized controlled trial of brief breath awareness, loving-kindness, gratitude or an attention control practice. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, (12).
Jans-Beken, L., Jacobs, N., Janssens, M., Peeters, S., Reijnders, J., Lechner, L., & Lataster, J. (2020). Gratitude and health: An updated review. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 15(6), 743-782. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1651888.
Nawa, N. E., & Yamagishi, N. (2021). Enhanced academic motivation in university students following a 2-week online gratitude journal intervention. BMC Psychology, 9, 71. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00559-w