Why is it important to appreciate the good things in life?

People with a natural tendency towards being grateful have better emotional health, says study.

Whilst most of us experience positive emotions when we benefit from others kindness, some people have a natural personality trait, which makes them more grateful than others. Scientists have been exploring whether there are psychological benefits and differences between cultures.

Using data from two long-term studies of middle-aged people in the US and Japan, researchers compared trait levels of gratitude with numerous measures linked to emotional wellbeing. For example, life satisfaction, social anxiety, perceived stress, anger expression, sympathy, loneliness, self-control, support from friends, family and partners.

The results published in Frontiers in Psychology found that in both cultures, people with high levels of gratitude also scored high in other mental wellbeing aspects, such as; life satisfaction, sympathy, self-control, and social support. Whereas loneliness, perceived stress, social anxiety and anger were associated with lower levels of gratitude.

The results indicate that one way to promote and maintain good mental health is to notice and be glad of the good things in life, even though we might not have everything we want.

“Our findings suggest that gratitude is linked to psychological health for individuals in different cultural environments”, wrote the authors.

If you feel a little short of gratitude and would like to cultivate a more thankful mindset, this link to the Positive Psychology website has more information and exercises to try.


Srirangarajan, Tara & Oshio, Atsushi & Yamaguchi, Ayano & Akutsu, Satoshi. (2020). Cross-Cultural Nomological Network of Gratitude: Findings From Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) and Japan (MIDJA). Frontiers in Psychology. 11. 571. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00571.

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