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Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


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Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

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Rainy Autumn Morning

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Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

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Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

All Audio Articles

January 24, 2017       

Can a Gratitude List Make a Difference in Your Life?

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
writing a gratitude list
We often hear about how keeping a list of things for which we are grateful can improve our well-being and health. Can such a simple activity make a difference? The answer is “yes” but not any more of a difference than other psychological techniques (Davis, et al., 2016). So perhaps it is just a matter of preference. Also, simple gratitude is not an effective technique for anxiety (read PsychNote: It's Not as Simple as Being Grateful).

Why is a happiness list effective?

The most effective treatments are those people are willing to do routinely. Writing a gratitude list is often enthusiastically embraced by people for several reasons:

1) Easy. Most people can understand the concept and it doesn't take much time to do.

2) Enjoyable. Any method that is enjoyable is more likely to be completed regularly. But one person might enjoy writing a list while another person enjoys progressive muscle relaxation. Enjoyment is a matter of preference.

3) Social. Tends to help people recall important social memories. Also, gratitude often occurs when receiving unexpected generosity from others.

4) Practical. Such methods are useful and can often enhance other treatment.

What other methods can be used?

However, this method is not the only way to improve well-being. A meta-analysis that examines the combined conclusions of multiple studies (over 30) comparing a gratitude list or gratitude letter with other interventions showed that the following were equally effective:

1) Acts of kindness. Look for opportunities to engage in acts of kindness and/or keep a list of kind things you do for others.

2) Cognitive diary. Examine self-talk and challenge any inaccurate statements that create problems in your life.

3) Relaxation. Engage in relaxation methods such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery.

4) Worry records. Keep a record of worries to help you examine and problem-solve.

5) Journaling. Journals focused on your best possible self or future self can be effective.

So, the bottom line is do whatever is most appealing to you. But do something!

Excel At Life provides an app to help with many of these different activities: Happy Habits: Choose Happiness.

Davis, D.E., Choe, E., Meyers, J., Wade, N., Varjas, K., Gifford, A., Quinn, A., Hook, J.N., Van Tongeren, D.R., Griffin, B.J. and Worthington, Jr., E.L. (2016). Thankful for the Little Things: A Meta-Analysis of Gratitude Interventions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 2016, 63, 20 –31. DOI: 10.1037/cou0000107


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