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Give This a Try: Gratitude Lists

Positive emotions don’t just feel good. They make us healthier, give us more energy, and make life easier. Studies show positive emotions reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. We can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways. Researchers have found many proven strategies to do this, but the simplest and easiest one is the gratitude list.

When researchers have participants write lists, letters, or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the health benefits associated with these emotions. There’s no bigger bang for your buck than finding and sticking with the gratitude exercise that’s right for you.

How to create a gratitude practice like the pros

There are many different ways researchers have designed gratitude practices, but they all have these three things in common:

  1. They force you to set aside time to pay attention to things and people you’re grateful for
  2. They force you to express this gratitude, either in writing or verbally
  3. It’s done consistently (daily or weekly) over weeks or months

Some studies have participants write a letter of gratitude to someone they feel they haven’t thanked properly. Other studies have asked participants to think about the “many things in [their] lives, big and small, [they] have to be grateful about,” and then list them all in as much detail as they can. Here’s how you can pick and choose from different elements to create a gratitude practice that works for you and your family:

  1. Decide how you want to set aside time for thinking about things you’re grateful for. Each morning when you wake or right before bed? Collectively as a family at the dinner table? Or individually, in each person’s own time?
  2. Do you want to write your gratitude down as a list? A letter? Or do you want to verbally express it? Do you want anyone to read or hear the list/letter?
  3. How often do you want to do this? Many of the studies spaced out the timing over weeks for logistical reasons. Doing it daily is likely to produce even more benefits.

We’d love to hear what you do if you already have a gratitude practice. And if you create your own, we’d love to know what it is and how it goes!

Give This a Try: Gratitude Lists

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Give This a Try: Gratitude Lists

Learn about how creating daily practice for feeling more positive emotions can do a body good!

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Key takeaways

1

Positive emotions boost mental, emotional, and physical health

2

They trickle out to positively affect your whole family

3

You can generate more positive emotions by developing your own research-backed gratitude practice

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Positive emotions don’t just feel good. They make us healthier, give us more energy, and make life easier. Studies show positive emotions reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. We can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways. Researchers have found many proven strategies to do this, but the simplest and easiest one is the gratitude list.

When researchers have participants write lists, letters, or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the health benefits associated with these emotions. There’s no bigger bang for your buck than finding and sticking with the gratitude exercise that’s right for you.

How to create a gratitude practice like the pros

There are many different ways researchers have designed gratitude practices, but they all have these three things in common:

  1. They force you to set aside time to pay attention to things and people you’re grateful for
  2. They force you to express this gratitude, either in writing or verbally
  3. It’s done consistently (daily or weekly) over weeks or months

Some studies have participants write a letter of gratitude to someone they feel they haven’t thanked properly. Other studies have asked participants to think about the “many things in [their] lives, big and small, [they] have to be grateful about,” and then list them all in as much detail as they can. Here’s how you can pick and choose from different elements to create a gratitude practice that works for you and your family:

  1. Decide how you want to set aside time for thinking about things you’re grateful for. Each morning when you wake or right before bed? Collectively as a family at the dinner table? Or individually, in each person’s own time?
  2. Do you want to write your gratitude down as a list? A letter? Or do you want to verbally express it? Do you want anyone to read or hear the list/letter?
  3. How often do you want to do this? Many of the studies spaced out the timing over weeks for logistical reasons. Doing it daily is likely to produce even more benefits.

We’d love to hear what you do if you already have a gratitude practice. And if you create your own, we’d love to know what it is and how it goes!

Positive emotions don’t just feel good. They make us healthier, give us more energy, and make life easier. Studies show positive emotions reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. We can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways. Researchers have found many proven strategies to do this, but the simplest and easiest one is the gratitude list.

When researchers have participants write lists, letters, or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the health benefits associated with these emotions. There’s no bigger bang for your buck than finding and sticking with the gratitude exercise that’s right for you.

How to create a gratitude practice like the pros

There are many different ways researchers have designed gratitude practices, but they all have these three things in common:

  1. They force you to set aside time to pay attention to things and people you’re grateful for
  2. They force you to express this gratitude, either in writing or verbally
  3. It’s done consistently (daily or weekly) over weeks or months

Some studies have participants write a letter of gratitude to someone they feel they haven’t thanked properly. Other studies have asked participants to think about the “many things in [their] lives, big and small, [they] have to be grateful about,” and then list them all in as much detail as they can. Here’s how you can pick and choose from different elements to create a gratitude practice that works for you and your family:

  1. Decide how you want to set aside time for thinking about things you’re grateful for. Each morning when you wake or right before bed? Collectively as a family at the dinner table? Or individually, in each person’s own time?
  2. Do you want to write your gratitude down as a list? A letter? Or do you want to verbally express it? Do you want anyone to read or hear the list/letter?
  3. How often do you want to do this? Many of the studies spaced out the timing over weeks for logistical reasons. Doing it daily is likely to produce even more benefits.

We’d love to hear what you do if you already have a gratitude practice. And if you create your own, we’d love to know what it is and how it goes!

Positive emotions don’t just feel good. They make us healthier, give us more energy, and make life easier. Studies show positive emotions reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, colds and respiratory illnesses, and even early death. Positive emotions also help us recover from the ill effects of stress, bad moods, and conflict.

The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for positive emotions to just pop up. We can intentionally generate positive emotions by shifting our attention in specific ways. Researchers have found many proven strategies to do this, but the simplest and easiest one is the gratitude list.

When researchers have participants write lists, letters, or regularly think about things in their lives they’re grateful for, positive emotions increase as do the health benefits associated with these emotions. There’s no bigger bang for your buck than finding and sticking with the gratitude exercise that’s right for you.

How to create a gratitude practice like the pros

There are many different ways researchers have designed gratitude practices, but they all have these three things in common:

  1. They force you to set aside time to pay attention to things and people you’re grateful for
  2. They force you to express this gratitude, either in writing or verbally
  3. It’s done consistently (daily or weekly) over weeks or months

Some studies have participants write a letter of gratitude to someone they feel they haven’t thanked properly. Other studies have asked participants to think about the “many things in [their] lives, big and small, [they] have to be grateful about,” and then list them all in as much detail as they can. Here’s how you can pick and choose from different elements to create a gratitude practice that works for you and your family:

  1. Decide how you want to set aside time for thinking about things you’re grateful for. Each morning when you wake or right before bed? Collectively as a family at the dinner table? Or individually, in each person’s own time?
  2. Do you want to write your gratitude down as a list? A letter? Or do you want to verbally express it? Do you want anyone to read or hear the list/letter?
  3. How often do you want to do this? Many of the studies spaced out the timing over weeks for logistical reasons. Doing it daily is likely to produce even more benefits.

We’d love to hear what you do if you already have a gratitude practice. And if you create your own, we’d love to know what it is and how it goes!

Enjoying this article? Subscribe to the Yes Collective for more expert emotional wellness just for parents.

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