Each year, people reconnect with family on Thanksgiving, and take the opportunity to express gratitude for their blessings. Given the significant effects of gratitude on happiness, it seems that this practice should be extended beyond Thanksgiving Day and integrated into daily life.

Gratitude, “the habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life"[1], is highly correlated with life satisfaction, subjective well-being, optimism and positive affect, while it protects against negative affect and rumination. Even within a school setting, students who were instructed to count their blessings reported higher subjective well-being and satisfaction with the school experience[2]. So perhaps the undergraduate and graduate school years could become a little more pleasant by actively practicing gratitude.

Cultivating a gratitude mindset is something that can be learned. And it is not hard. Simply keeping a gratitude journal, daily or weekly, is an intervention found to be effective. So this year, you can start your gratitude practice on Thanksgiving Day and continue on throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[1] Wood, A. M., Froh, J.J., & Geraghty, A. (2010) Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration, Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 890-905.

[2] Froh, J.J., Sefick, W.J., & Emmons, R.A (2008) Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being, Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213-233.