Grateful Teens are Happier, Study Shows

It doesn’t take a formal psychological study to know that an attitude of gratitude can make a real difference in all we do and all we become. But we’ve got one anyway, and the results are undeniable. Presented at an annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, results of a four-year study prove that teens who are grateful also are happier, more hopeful and well-behaved at school.

“More gratitude may be precisely what our society needs to raise a generation that is ready to make a difference in the world,” said study researcher Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at California State University.

Here’s how the study played out. Researchers followed 700 kids ages 10 to 14 over a period of four years, interviewing or surveying them periodically. At the four-year mark, final reviews showed that the most grateful teens…

  • Had a 15-percent increase in the feeling that they had a meaning for life.
  • Had a 15-percent increase in life satisfaction.
  • Experienced a 17-percent boost in happiness and hopefulness.
  • Reported a decrease in symptoms of depression.
  • Experienced significant reductions in immoral or dangerous behaviors including cheating on tests, using drugs and alcohol and being punished with detention.

These results back up numerous other studies that reveal countless academic, social, emotional, health and career benefits. These include making more friends and deepening existing relationships, getting better sleep, being more likely to exercise regularly, experiencing less physical pain and illness, extending lifespan, reducing stress and feelings of envy, increasing optimism and resilience, boosting self-esteem and energy levels, improving grades, productivity and decision-making skills, and performing better at school and in careers.

With Thanksgiving Day right around the corner, now is a great time to begin developing an attitude of gratitude! Project SOS offers these tips:

  • Keep a daily gratitude journal, jotting down five things you’re thankful for each morning or evening.
  • Meditate on and/or pray about the blessings in your life.
  • When someone does something for you, no matter how small, make a point to look them in the eye and say “thank you.”
  • Hand-write and send thank you notes. It may seem old school in today’s high-tech environment, but that makes the gesture all the more meaningful.
  • Do something kind for someone else – treat a friend to lunch, do extra chores for your family or spend a day serving your community, perhaps at a local homeless shelter or pet shelter.

How do you show gratitude? Post your tips on the Project SOS Facebook Fan Page.

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