Tag Archives: Emmons

Practicing Gratitude

Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore, writes on  the importance of practicing gratitude!


Practicing Gratitude can make us all Happier. Research finds that people’s happiness levels can increase by 25% by practicing gratitude. Such an increase in the set point for happiness can be sustained over a period of time, contrary to the held notion that our ‘set point’ is frozen at birth.

In his book,  Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Nov 2008), Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, shows that a systematic cultivation of this emotion can measurably change people’s lives. He describes research he carried out with three experimental groups over 10 weeks.

  • The first group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for that had happened in the last week for each of the 10 weeks of the study. This was called the gratitude condition.
  • The second group were asked to write down five daily hassles from the previous week. This was called the hassles condition.
  • The third group simply listed five events that had occurred in the last week, but not told to focus on positive or negative aspects. This was the events or control condition.

Some grateful conditions that emerged: Sunset through the clouds; the chance to be alive; and the generosity of friends. Those in the ‘gratitude condition’ group were more optimistic about the future and felt better about their lives than those in the ‘hassles’ or ‘events’ condition.

In a second study, Emmons and McCullough asked people in the control condition group to list ways in which they were better off than others. They were making positive comparisons but not necessarily thinking gratefully. Again, the results showed that those in the gratitude condition were significantly happier than those making positive comparisons between themselves and others and those focussing on daily hassles.practicing-gratitude

In a third study that lasted 21 days, Emmons and McCullough recruited adults who had neuromuscular disorders as people with this condition have a good reason to be unhappy with what life has dealt them. Participants in the gratitude condition were found to be more satisfied with their lives, more optimistic about the upcoming week and crucially, were sleeping better.

Let Us Give Thanks!


Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore, writes about why being thankful is as important as anything else. 

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘Thank You’, that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

Dr. Robert Emmons, author of ‘Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude can make you Happier’ says that frequentthankfulness boosts happiness by 25%. He says that in order for gratitude to yield happiness and health benefits, itmust be CHRONIC. “A habitual attitude of thankfulness, as opposed to one-off reactions. Feeling gratitude must be ingrained into your personality, and you must frequently acknowledge and be thankful for the role other people play in your happiness.”

Research has shown that:

–  those who kept weekly gratitude journals, exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

–  self-guided gratitude exercises with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).

–  children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

Emmons designed “The Gratitude Questionnaire-Six Item Form (GQ-6)” to measure a person’s Gratitude Quotient. (McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.)


Using the scale below as a guide, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it.

1 = strongly disagree

2 = disagree

3 = slightly disagree

4 = neutral

5 = slightly agree

6 = agree

7 = strongly agree


1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.

2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.

3. When I look at the world, I see much to be grateful for.

4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.

5. As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.

6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.*


1. Add up your scores for items 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

2. Reverse your scores for item 6.  That is, if you scored a “7,” give yourself a “1,” if you scored a “6,” give yourself a “2,” etc.

3. Add all the scores.

This is your total Gratitude Quotient; a number between 6 and 42.

The higher your score, the greater your Gratitude Quotient!