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Daily list of gratitude

In the past 20 years, many scientists studied the influence of daily gratitude list practice on well-being, health, and quality of life. Despite being a simple activity (requires only the daily listing of 3-5 things that we are grateful for), it has amazing benefits :

- more frequent positive emotions and feelings (Martínez-Martí et al., 2010)

- higher happiness (Mongrain and Anselmo-Matthews, 2012) and life satisfaction levels (Manthey et al., 2016)

- reduced stress levels (Kerr et al., 2015)

- more social relationships of better quality (Algoe et al., 2008)

- increased health (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)

- better sleep (Wood et al., 2009)

How is possible to influence so many factors only by writing a few words a day?

We all fall into the trap of a cognitive bias called negativity bias which implies that a negative fact will weigh, for us, more than a positive one of the same magnitude. The negativity bias helped our ancestors survive in a dangerous world filled with threats when they were not getting a second chance to evaluate a negative fact (Kiken and Shook, 2011).

Each time we think fast, we rely on the surviving mechanisms written in our DNA.

Writing 3 to 5 positive things requires us to reflect on the past period of time, and to maintain a positive state of mind until we find 3 or 5. We do this by thinking slowly and this is how the negativity bias becomes quiet.

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