Gratitude is scientifically proven to increase happiness

An essay by Bridget Fonger
Sep 26, 2013

I was at a big boisterous dinner party last weekend. On my corner of the long table, two friends were having a bit of a serious exchange about trying to be okay with life just the way it is and just the way it isn't. They invited me into the conversation and I, of course, agreed that I shared their plight. We label all the life experiences that don't feel good as "wrong" and all the positive experiences as "right," I admitted that I've been working hard on this one for years. But I also mentioned my personal saving grace.

I offered that the happiest people I know -- and I included myself in this group -- are the ones who express gratitude on a regular basis. I happen to start my day with gratitude, but it's easy for me because I wake up to my two joyous dogs, Lucy and Tallulah, on either side of me. It's hard to not be grateful when you wake up to pure unconditional playful love. They trigger the start of my gratitude list and then I move on from there. Maybe this is why dog owners tend to be happier. Dogs can't help but trigger gratitude with their unconditional love and licks.

The top of my gratitude list stays the same each day, but the end of the list always surprises me. Sometimes I am grateful for the struggles, though not often. I'm working on that one. I'd like to be equally grateful for all of it one day.

When I meditate I also start with a gratitude list to center myself. It pulls me into the present. My list feels like a representation of who I am and where I am in that moment. It is a re-PRESENT-ation, pulling me to be fully in the now.

We are all our own little science labs. I say whatever works for you, do it. Gratitude pretty much never fails to work for me in raising my happiness quotient. It's just fun that this video lets us know it's scientifically proven and allows us to watch some other loving lab rats become more happy as they express their gratitude.

In the early- to mid-2000s, I did a lot of Landmark Education courses and I think what got me hooked on this work was the exercise in the very first course in their curriculum, the Landmark Forum, which requires you to pick up a phone and, among other things yet most important to me, express gratitude to someone you care about. I am so happy I was able to do this with both of my parents, for instance, in a way I never had before. These exercises catapulted my happiness quotient to a new level. But, most important they gave me what I'm sure will be a lifelong appreciation for expressing gratitude and its feel-good effects.

The best part of expressing gratitude like that shown in this video is the endless chain of positive events that you know were generated by these phone calls. Talk about paying it forward! You don't even have to wonder about all the juicy goodness that will come in someone's day after having been fully acknowledged. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Questioning gravity is crazy. With videos like this, hopefully questioning gratitude will soon be equally insane.

Link to the video: