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Practice Gratitude

November 2023

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Thanksgiving is almost here.  Something is to be said for an “attitude of gratitude”, not just during this season but every day.   

Gratitude is both a state of being and a character trait.  It is simply a form of appreciation. Whether challenged with scarcity or blessed with plenty, in many ways it helps to be more grateful.   

Taking time to focus on the positive things that happen, whether big or small, takes practice.  Dr. Judith Moscowitz, psychologist from Northwestern University, advises people to practice gratitude daily.  Moscowitz’s research team has been studying the effects of a daily gratitude journal on coping with stress and health.  Practicing gratitude skills helps some people increase positive emotions.  Her research suggests that daily practice of gratitude may improve your emotional well-being.  It can help a person cope with stress better and has physical benefits.  For example, one study showed that gratitude was linked to fewer signs of heart disease.   

Other benefits include: 

  • improve sleep quality, 

  • increase feelings of joy and positive mood 

  • foster hope for the future 

  • decrease stress and decrease symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

  • increase resilience 

  • boosts the immune system 

  • improve relationships  

When you make gratitude a regular habit, it can increase your awareness of the good things in your life despite the bad things that may be happening.  According to Rev. Connie L. Habash, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in Redwood City, California for over 20 years, “When we practice gratitude, we shift our focus from what is wrong or missing, to what is here.” 

Tips for growing gratitude skills: 

  • Pause.  Take a moment to think about the positive things that happened throughout the day.    

  • Journal.  Write down 3 things every day that make you feel grateful. 

  • Jar. Write down things you are grateful for on a little piece of paper and put them in a “Gratitude Jar”.  When you are having a bad day, shake the jar, take a note, and be reminded of a thankful moment. 

  • Savor.  Try to notice positive experiences as they are happening. 

  • Relive.  Go back to positive experiences in your mind or share them with others.   

  • Do.  Decide to do something nice for someone else. 

  • Write.  Send a letter to someone you are thankful for. 

  • Visit.  Tell someone why you are grateful for them in your life.  

  • And last but not least…Say “Thank You” as often as you can! 

                                                      Choose gratitude every day! 




*Randomized controlled trial of a positive affect intervention for people newly diagnosed with HIV. Moskowitz JT, Carrico AW, Duncan LG, Cohn MA, Cheung EO, Batchelder A, Martinez L, Segawa E, Acree M, Folkman S. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2017 May;85(5):409-423. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000188. Epub 2017 Mar 23. PMID: 28333512. 

*A Self-Paced, Web-Based, Positive Emotion Skills Intervention for Reducing Symptoms of Depression: Protocol for Development and Pilot Testing of MARIGOLD. Cheung EO, Addington EL, Bassett SM, Schuette SA, Shiu EW, Cohn MA, Leykin Y, Saslow LR, Moskowitz JT. JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Jun 5;7(6):e10494. doi: 10.2196/10494. PMID: 29871853. 

*Pilot Randomized Study of a Gratitude Journaling Intervention on Heart Rate Variability and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Patients With Stage B Heart Failure. Redwine LS, Henry BL, Pung MA, Wilson K, Chinh K, Knight B, Jain S, Rutledge T, Greenberg B, Maisel A, Mills PJ. Psychosom Med. 2016 Jul-Aug;78(6):667-76. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000316. PMID: 27187845. 

*NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison 
Building 31, Room 5B52 
Bethesda, MD 20892-2094 sends e-mail) 
Tel: 301-451-8224 

*Healthline: Article written by Bethany Fulton 10/27/2020 

Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D. 

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