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While it might seem obvious in retrospect, one of the latest breakthroughs in the psychology of happiness has to do with gratitude. Multiple studies have shown a positive correlation between gratitude and happiness. One study, performed by Dr. Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami asked participants to jot down a few sentences each week.

One group was asked to write down things for which they were grateful that week. The second group was asked to do just the opposite. They wrote down the regular annoyances and frustrations that occur in daily life. The third group were asked to simply write down things that occurred throughout their week, with no specific focus on either positive or negative experiences.

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were markedly more optimistic, and exhibited higher levels of enjoyment of their lives than before the study. An unexpected byproduct of the exercise occurred as well, with participants exercising more and visiting the doctor less. In other words, the participants who practiced gratitude were happier and healthier.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

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