Dr Mark Atkinson's Blog

15Oct 2010

How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

One of the most effective (and often quickest) ways to shift the way you feel, lift your mood and enhance your level of happiness is to practice gratitude. Gratitude provides the foundations upon which a fulfilling and meaningful life is built. One of the many fascinating discoveries to emerge from the field of positive psychology – the study of how human beings flourish – is that the regular and deliberate practice of gratitude can bring about significant relief from stress and considerable improvements in happiness, motivation, optimism, energy levels, sleep and quality of life. It is also a powerful antidote to ‘negative emotions’ and depression, as well as the foundation upon which a fulfilling life is created. Robert Emmons, the world’s leading gratitude researcher, describes gratitude as the ‘felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life’. Summarizing the findings from studies to date, Emmons says that those who practice grateful thinking ‘reap emotional, physical and interpersonal benefits’. Here are some ways to practice gratitude.


  • Keep a gratitude journal. I get my patients to their day by writing down two things for which they are grateful and two things that they appreciate about themselves. The key is to allow yourself to feel the gratitude
  • Throughout your day take a moment to count your blessings.
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone important in your life. Deliver it in person and read it out aloud
  • Have a gratitude partner. Talk to someone about your commitment to gratitude and see if they would be willing to practise with you. You might, for example, exchange gratitude lists or share gratitudes over the phone or in person.


Author: Mark Atkinson