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The Science of Gratitude

Science of Gratitude

Today I want to share with you some things I’ve learnt during the NeuroMindfulness Coach Certification with regard to the science of gratitude.

I’m sure you’ve heard many times about how gratitude can really help us in many ways, but you’ve probably wondered if there’s any study to back this up.

Well, yes, there are several studies on the subject of gratitude, and today I’ll reference two of them, which I mention in the Sources paragraph below.

Studies on Gratitude

In the first study, they’ve split the participants into three groups: one was supposed to journal about gratitude moments, one about the daily hassle and the control group about neutral events.

What they’ve observed after the study was that the people in the first group (journaling about gratitude moments) were recording higher well-being attributes: more positive (and less negative) affect, they had a more optimistic outlook on life, more pro-social behaviours and they were sleeping better.

In the second study, they had 300 participants and they’ve split it into 3 groups again: 1 group asked to write 1 gratitude letter to another person per week for 3 weeks, 1 group about their feelings on a negative experience and 3rd group was a control group.

What they’ve discovered during this second study was:

  • Gratitude shifts our attention away from toxic emotions such as resentment and envy
  • Only people using less negative emotions in their letters reported higher mental health
  • People did not have to send the gratitude letter to the recipient top reap the benefits
  • Effects started to manifest at 4 weeks, and become more pronounced at 12 weeks
  • Gratitude activates the medial prefrontal cortex (learning and decision-making) => this suggests that people who are more grateful are also more attentive to how they express gratitude
  • Medial pre frontal cortex stays more sensitive up to 3 months after the start of the gratitude letters writing experiment.
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Source: created by the author based on the NeuroMindfulness Coach Certification course. Used with permission.

A mobile app I recommend

Now, if you don’t want to write letters or journal about your gratitude moments (though this really works), you can use any of the apps that you can find online for this purpose. They are plenty.
I can recommend the one I’ve been using for quite some time now: Presently. It’s very simple but for me, it worked. I’m not affiliated with the company that created it and I bet there are cooler gratitude apps around, but this is the one I’ve been using and it worked for me. Just noticed now is only available on Android phones.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and will give gratitude a chance 😊 – whichever way works for you.

Stay healthy, stay happy, stay safe,



  1. R. Emmons, M. McCullough “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective wellbeing in daily life”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2003;
  2. Joel Wong, Joshua Brown, Greater good science center,

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