Thanksgiving: What can we prove about gratitude? CHESTERTON in his classic garb—cape and big hat—photographed in the 1920s. Image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons.“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,” wrote G.K. Chesterton, “and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

But does gratitude really make a difference?
Does giving thanks produce any scientifically measurable results?

It does, concludes Robert Emmons, a psychologist who is the guru of gratitude research. Emmons, his collaborators, and others scholars have produced a spate of studies that document the benefits of being grateful. Here‘s a small sample of conclusions, gleaned from his lab’s web site:
People who regularly keep track of feelings of gratitude are happier, feel better physically, sleep more soundly, and are more optimistic about their lives. They are also more likely to make progress in the pursuit of their goals.

People who feel grateful also are more likely to help or offer emotional support to others. As we discussed yesterday, gratitude trumps self-interest when it comes to helping others. The generosity of grateful people is recognized by those around them.

Grateful kids, like grateful adults, have more positive attitudes about their lives and the world. For example, grateful kids feel most positively about school and family.

There’s also a spiritual component. People who attend religious services, pray, and read religious materials are more grateful than those who do not. “Gratitude does not require religious faith,” notes Emmons, “but faith enhances the ability to be grateful.”

Grateful people also appear to be less materialistic. Material goods are less important to them and they don’t judge success according to what one owns. They are more likely to be generous and share what they have.

Share your stories of gratitude and generosity…

When have your experienced these values?

Where have you witnessed them in others?


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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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