Is there a link between gratitude and happiness?

Ronald Siegel
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness (feelings of contentment or joy; the overall experience of pleasure, well-being, and meaning in life). Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish positive experiences, enjoy better health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

As a signature strength, gratitude is felt and expressed in multiple ways. It can be applied to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of your childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking things for granted as they come), and the future (being hopeful and optimistic that there will be good things arriving). No matter what your inherent or current level of gratitude, it's a quality that can be successfully cultivated further.

Yes there is a link between gratitude and happiness. Gratitude is the attitude of appreciation. If we are looking at our lives with appreciation and thankful for what we have instead of unthankful for what we don't have, we are generally happier feeling more satsified than not. It is a choice to be grateful or not.

When I am starting to feel ungrateful I sit down for 1 - 2 minutes and make a list of all the things I am grateful for, whether it be my dishwasher, liquid soap, my son, fresh air, or simply some quiet time to myself, I find that taking time to do a "gratitude attitude" list (is what I call it) always makes me feels better when I am done. I will look down at my list and realize just how much I have and will feel more satisfied and complete, thankful to have all that I do have. 

It is just that simple, if you are grateful for what you have, you are happy with what you have. Again, the more you focus on the positive in your life and the less you focus on the negative, in the end you will ultimately be happier.

Psychologist Jeff Larsen from Texas Tech University and Amie McKibban of Wichita State University set out to test this theory among college students. They asked these students to rate their attitude toward the car they either owned or wished they owned.  In short, they proved that happiness is both wanting what you have and having what you want.

"Simply having a bunch of things is not the key to happiness," Larsen said in a prepared statement. "Our data show that you also need to appreciate those things you have. It’s also important to keep your desire for things you don’t own in check." "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  ~G.K. Chesterton


Gratitude reinvigorates happiness, psychologists say. Because our emotions are highly adaptable, we can become numb to what makes us happy, so a dose of appreciation for our blessings is refreshing. A 10-week study compared the well-being of people who kept a daily log of items for which they felt grateful with those who didn't. Those who kept the gratitude journal showed a 25 percent increase in happiness.

Continue Learning about Emotions



Medical science recognizes a mind-body connection and that your emotions may affect your body's physical health. Being down or depressed can cause fatigue, aches, and pains. If you are having problems and are also stressed, it's a ...

good idea to let your doctor know. This can be part of the diagnosis. Seeking an emotional balance and developing some resistance to bad feelings can be an important step to improved health. Techniques to improve your emotional health can range from medication to talking with an advisor, eating healthfully or exercising.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.