Flexing Your Gratitude Muscle

Greetings to the Ladies Jane!

A relatively unknown concept is what I think of as The Gratitude Return. The idea is that experiencing the emotion we refer to as gratitude begins a chain reaction that ends in a measure of well-being. Gratitude journals and self-generated gratitude interventions have been shown to provide a wealth of benefits, including improved overall optimism, goal attainment, and higher levels of alertness, as well as increased positive attitude, improved energy, overall contentment, longer and better quality sleep, and increased hope and determination (hence, I suspect, the goal attainment).

In fact, one researcher says that practicing gratitude can improve happiness levels by around 25%. Who couldn't stand to be 25% happier?

One of the most striking angles of this concept is that demographic traits (income, race, age, etc.) have been shown to be unreliable in predicting subjective well-being (SWB), but that personality traits (such as extroversion) are a reliable predictor. Gratitude is beginning to be considered one such trait. Another striking angle is that, while most religions stress gratitude and graciousness as a virtue, the personal positive rewards of gratitude are shown to be independent of religion, i.e. the atheist will reap the same rewards as the born-again.

"Gratitude seems to energize and elevate people," another researcher says. "It's available to everyone. And it has a very large payoff for a very small investment."

So, ladies, flex your gratitude muscle and reap the rewards! I made the "Practice Gratitude" graphic to help us all remember. Click through and print it out in whatever size you'd like.

Further reading available from several sources.



  1. I agree with this premise whole heartedly. Gratitude has gotten me through some difficult times for sure.

  2. I printed out the graphic and hung it in my office today!

  3. I find that I can express gratitude in times of abundence but am sorely lacking in being able to do the same in times of sorrow

  4. That's the challenge, now isn't it? Trying to focus on what *is* good, the be grateful *for* those things, not only when times are good but when times are bad. I think that it's *more* important to focus on gratitude when the world is crashing down around your ears, because that helps keep us from running ourselves into the ground in patterns of worry and anxiety.

    Focusing on gratitude for the smallest thing someone does, holding open a door for you, catching that green light, or being first in line at the drug store gives us a moment's pause, a small opportunity for our brains to release a little of those happy-chemicals that can break us out of bad mental cycles.