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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Nack

Gratitude, does it really help?

Has anyone ever told you to give thanks or to be grateful for what you have? Some people have an unpleasant reaction to those words. People suggest it as a solution to another’s problem when the other person may be seeking to be heard and supported, rather than fixed or dismissed. There is a place for gratitude and there is a place for expressing frustration, but sometimes people make the mistake of only using one or the other. Gratitude can get overlooked for the aforementioned reasons, but it is a popular concept for a reason.

There have been many studies that found people to be happier and less depressed if they consciously express gratitude. One research study focused on gratitude in the way of writing letters to people the participants were grateful for, found that there were psychological benefits whether they ended up sending the letter to the person it was written for or not. They made sure to focus on people who had mental health concerns for the population in this study, and all participants were receiving mental health counseling at the time of the study as well. The researchers found that counseling and practicing gratitude had greater benefits to people than counseling alone, and the practice of gratitude did not have to take much time at all. There were differences in brain activation on participants that did the gratitude activity even three months after the study was done, so there were lasting effects on these people (Brown & Wong, 2017). While there is promising research out there, one meta-analysis claims that there needs to be a clearer definition of what “evidence” is in gratitude research and what the implications are in the health care setting (Day et al., 2020). This area of psychological research is still changing and developing, and researchers are still working to define and measure gratitude.

An author of an article on a Mayo Clinic website made a great point that if a pill could do what gratitude does for people, people would be taking that pill. She mentions that there are studies that claim gratitude to be beneficial with sleep, mood, immunity, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and risk of disease (Logan, 2022). While this research is still ongoing and developing, the fact that gratitude research is pointing toward these benefits is exciting. Some people find a gratitude journal, jar, app, or other method as being a way to regularly find appreciation in the things around them. Others may like writing letters to those who they appreciate. Do you think any of this could help you?



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