Can Writing About the Things You Are Grateful for Make Your Life Seem Better?

By Brad Bell

Gratitude is a vital aspect of social interaction.  It may reflect a cultural norm.  We may become socialized to express our gratitude to others.  A simple “thank you” has become an automatic part of our everyday communiction with others.  Writing about the things you are grateful for may change your perspective on life.  You may see the glass as half full, rather than half empty.  Your life as a whole may seem much better.  In their third study, Emmons and McCullough (2003) had people complete forms for 21 days. The participants in their third study had a neuromuscular disease.  In this study, they found that people who were asked to write down things they were thankful or grateful for perceived their life as a whole better than people who were not asked to write down these things.(1) These findings have important practical implications.  Taking several minutes each day to write about the things you are grateful for may foster a positive view of your life.


1.  See their article for other findings.


Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003).  Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.