Gratitude makes you happier, research shows

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:37 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:14 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Many will gather around the Thanksgiving dinner table on Thursday, and talk about what they are thankful for.

But research shows that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness and well-being is the amount of gratitude that a person experiences—not just around Thanksgiving, but all year ‘round.

Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, a distinguished psychologist at UW Health in Madison shares what research says about gratitude and how its benefits ripple throughout our lives.

“We have this negativity bias of our brain, where our brain tends to zoom in and focus on what’s wrong,” Dr. Mirgain says. “That’s where gratitude can really be a powerful practice.”

She says thinking about what we’re grateful for can automatically highlight the good things and drown out the negative ones.

“Life is hard and there are a lot of stressors and challenges,” she says. “If you look at the research, gratitude is one of the greatest things we can do to safeguard our mental health and well-being.”

How does one cultivate an attitude of gratitude? “It requires a mind shift,” says Dr. Mirgain, and something that needs to become a daily practice. She says queues like every time you receive a text message, or each day at lunchtime, can be used as reminders to take a few minutes out and make a gratitude list.

“When that queue happens, just take a moment and reflect on one thing that you’re grateful for.”

Dr. Mirgain also says that this action will work in a ripple effect. According to research, of those who practiced showing daily gratitude over six months, 9% report being happier.