The Pessimist’s Guide to Gratitude
Your mother was right – say thank you.
Scientists have now proven what your mother always knew it’s good to be
grateful. Being grateful is more than just politeness; it’s actually good for your
health and wellbeing.
In a study by Robert A. Emmons, of the University of California, and Davis and
Michael E. McCullough, of the University of Miami, people who kept gratitude
journals showed higher levels of health and wellbeing than people who journaled
neutral events or counted hardships. After 2 months, the people who journaled
their gratitude felt more optimistic and happier than their control counterparts. They
reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out. People with
neuromuscular problems who did the same thing fell asleep more quickly, slept
longer and woke up feeling more refreshed. Even their spouses noticed the
How can you cultivate gratefulness even if you’re a glasshalfempty person?
The first step for pessimists is to fake it. Write down what you’re grateful for, even
if you don’t feel it at the moment. Eventually the habit of finding life’s gifts will
change your outlook.
Keep your gratitude list simple. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for every day.
Use short, simple sentences, but be specific. “I’m grateful for my son” is less
effective than “I’m grateful my son snuggled next to me before bed.”
Carry a traveling gratitude journal. Buy a mininotebook or use a notetaking app on your
smart phone. Count the things you’re grateful for as they happen.
And finally, write a gratitude letter. Send a letter to someone who influenced your life and
tell them how much you appreciated their support. You’ll feel happy and you’ll make them
The trick to building gratefulness is to do it often and regularly. While the end of the year
is a good time to celebrate gratefulness as a holiday, take the habit into your everyday
life. Soon you will notice that you feel lighter and happier.
I am grateful to all of you for an extraordinary year. It has been my pleasure to work with
you and support your health. Thank you for a wonderful 2012 and may this next year
bring you health, prosperity and happiness.