It takes just two minutes a week to make yourself happier. All you have to do is sit down make a list of five things you are grateful for and you’ll be 25% happier.
Jeremy at the always brilliant PsychBlog summarizes the evidence:
- Emmons and McCullough (2003) were surprised to find that happiness could be increased by a simple gratitude exercise. Participants took the time to write down 5 things they were grateful for each week, for 10 weeks. At the end of the study this group were 25% happier than a comparison group who simply listed five events from the week.
- Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) compared practising gratitude three times a week with once a week. They found that only those who carried out the exercise once a week were happier. This suggests overdoing the gratitude is not beneficial – perhaps because of habituation.
- Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson (2005) carried out a randomised, placebo-controlled study. They followed participants up 6 months after they had begun carrying out a simple gratitude exercise and found they were happier and less depressed than a control group. In this study, though, participants initially wrote about what they were grateful for every day for a week.
As Jeremy says it’s so simple that people probably won’t do it. But since it does only take 2 minutes why not try. Set a weekly reminder in your calendar and jot down five things you are grateful about. Even if it doesn’t make you happier it should make you think.
Things I am grateful for, a random five
- my kitchen is pink
- i am perky
- i saw apocalyptica on friday