After a tough year, you may be looking for ways to add a little more positivity to your life. One surprisingly simple way is to express gratitude.
In fact, scientific research shows a connection between expressing gratitude and physical and mental well‐being.1 In one study, researchers asked one group of participants to write about things they were grateful for and another group to write about things that irritated them.2 After 10 weeks, testing showed that the people who wrote about being grateful were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and logged fewer visits to doctors than the group that focused on irritating things.
How can you be more grateful in a time of increased unpredictability and anxiety? It may take a little effort. Experts recommend everything from keeping a gratitude journal in which you list the things you’re thankful for to meditating to performing small acts of kindness.3 Even writing thank‐you notes can help. While you may not have control over the events that shape your life, you do have some control over how you view those events — and deliberately cultivating gratitude may help you maintain a positive outlook.
At this point, you may be asking: What does expressing gratitude have to do with saving for retirement? Not a lot—at first glance. But maybe being happier in the here‐and‐now can make it easier to focus on planning for the future. At least it’s worth a try.
1 Psychology Today, “The Positive Impact of Gratitude on Mental Health,” June 29, 2020.
2 Harvard University, “Giving thanks can make you happier,” June 17, 2020.
3 NIH News in Health, “Practicing Gratitude,” March 2019.