Does Gratitude Really Make a Difference?


Note: This post is presented as part of Finding Resilience, a burnout prevention program for funeral professionals. To learn more about this program and sign up for free resources, click here.

Can you improve your mood through simple steps that take less than a minute a day? Research suggests the answer is, “yes!” Generally speaking, research suggests that regular gratitude can improve your mood and optimism.

One of the early and most commonly referenced research studies on gratitude was conducted by Emmons and McCullough in 2003. They split their research participants into three groups who were asked to think about and list up to five things:

  1. they were grateful or thankful for
  2. that were hassles in their daily life
  3. that simply happened

The participants didn’t describe or write about the events; they simply listed them. They did this daily for three weeks. After comparing the participants to themselves at the beginning of the experiment and to one another, Emmons and McCullough found several interesting relationships. The participants who wrote about what they were grateful or thankful for were found to have significantly:

  • Higher positive mood
  • Higher rates of helping someone else
  • Better views of life in general
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved mood as noticed by a romantic partner

Later studies have generally found similar results: Short expressions of gratitude on a regular basis have a positive impact on our mood and much more. For an easy way to practice gratitude, request a free Finding Resilience journal.

What are you grateful for today? Share your answer in the comments below.

Dr. Jason Troyer is a psychology professor, former counselor, grief researcher and consultant for businesses that want to better serve grieving families. He has written numerous aftercare materials, including the Finding Hope booklet series, and is a frequent presenter at funeral service professional events.


Finding Resilience


This information is not intended to replace information from a mental health or medical professional. The reader should consult an appropriate professional in matters related to his or her physical and emotional health.