The latest research on the science of gratitude.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

— G.K. Chesterton

Thanksgiving is good for you . . .

and science proves it.

Research shows that grateful people will have:

fewer stress-related

Source: Thnx4Schools Gratitude Challenge

Source: Examining the Pathways between Gratitude and Self-Rated Physical Health across Adulthood

lower blood

Source: Thnx4Schools Gratitude Challenge

Source: Gratitude Works!

“Gratitude is one of the character strengths that is most strongly related to happiness. And we can be more intentional about living that way.”

— Giacomo Bono

co-author, Making Grateful Kids

For every 10 years of life, your gratitude increases by

Positive emotions can add up to 7 years to your life

6 Habits of Highly Grateful People

Think about dying

When you contemplate your death—or that of a loved one—you become more grateful for their life. Think about losing anything important, and you become more thankful.

“Embrace your humanity, accept uncertainty, and live a life of gratitude.”

— Lee Lipsenthal, author of Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your Last

Take time to smell the roses

A cliché, but it’s a true cliché. Pay more attention. Soak up the view. Take a long bath. Listen to the whole symphony. Hug a little longer. Learn to savor every experience.

“[Savoring] is like swishing the experience around … in your mind.”

— Fred Bryant, social psychologist at Loyola University of Chicago

Appreciate good things

Take nothing for granted. They’re all gifts, not entitlements—even the seemingly mundane: Your job. Your family. Running water. Trees. The beach. Mountain hikes.

“The humble person says that life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed.”

— Robert Emmons, psychology professor, University of California-Davis

Appreciate the hard things

Try to be grateful for a job loss, a health problem, an annoying colleague, maybe even someone who has harmed you. It’ll hone your patience, tolerance, and ability to endure.

“Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity, of reframing a loss into a potential gain.”

— Robert Emmons, psychology professor, University of California-Davis

Show gratitude to others

Better yet, say it. Thank the barista at the coffee bar . . . your child for putting away the dishes . . . your spouse for a great meal… your co-worker for a job well done.

“[Expressing thanks] engages biological systems for trust and affection, alongside circuits for pleasure and reward.”

— Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Ph.D, science director, Greater Good Science Center

Mention the details

Don’t be vague. Be specific. “I love the way you make these pancakes.” “I really like the way you listen so patiently.” “I appreciate the way you carefully bag my groceries.” And show your thanks with a hug, a smile, a fist bump.

“These gestures can have profound effects. … [P]eople who felt appreciated for their efforts reported being more satisfied with their relationships.”

— Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D., social-personality psychologist

Cultivating Gratitude

Dr. Robert Emmons is the author of
Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

In this video from the Greater Good Science Center, he offers research-tested strategies for becoming a more grateful person.

The Man Who Loved Thanksgiving

“Thanksgiving is a creative force that, if lived on a continuous basis and not just for one day each year, can create more good in your life. Perhaps we could call this way of life thanksgiving.”

Sir John Templeton

The Templeton Foundation funds gratitude research all over the U.S.

Here are some of those projects (denoted by an asterisk), plus some other gratitude research projects.

Eastern Washington University
Cheney, WA

Ryan Fehr, University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Neural Systems Supporting Gratitude*
Christina Karns, University of Oregon
Eugene, OR

Expanding the Science & Practice of Gratitude*
Greater Good Science Center, University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Gratitude, Sleep & Well-Being
San Francisco, CA

Louis Schwartzberg, Blacklight Films
Los Angeles, CA

Glenn Fox, University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

Gratitude to God*
Robert Emmons, University of California-Davis
Davis, CA

Sara Algoe, University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC

Andrea Hussong, University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC

Gratitude in Development*
New Haven, CT

Gratitude as a Fount of Virtue*
David DeSteno, Northeastern University
Boston, MA

Gratitude: A Basic Human Emotion for Initiating Friendships*
Debra Lieberman, University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL

Effects of Gratitude on Children’s Social Attitudes*
Kristin Schutts, University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI

Gratitude in an Aging Society*
Lindsay Ryan, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Gratitude, Well-Being, and the Decline of Materialism*
Jonathan Tudge, UNC-Greensboro
Greensboro, NC

New York, NY

Joel Wong, Indiana University
Bloomington, IN

C. Nathan DeWall et al., University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY