How Grateful Are You? Interactive Quiz + Seven Strategies for Cultivating Gratitude

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Gratitude increases our happiness, improves our relationships, and makes us healthier.

And it does so reliably. Over 40 research studies have shown the same thing – gratitude rocks.

So how can we get more of it? It depends. How grateful are you already?

Let’s figure that out. The quiz below only takes 30 seconds.

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How grateful are you?

1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Neutral Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Neutral Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Neutral Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Neutral Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

5. As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Neutral Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Neutral Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

You are more grateful than 5% of the adult, American population. Triggering more frequent feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more intense feelings of gratitude, but at your level, both actions will lead towards large change.
You are more grateful than 15% of the adult, American population. Triggering more frequent feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more intense feelings of gratitude, but at your level, both actions will lead towards large change.
You are more grateful than 25% of the adult, American population. Triggering more frequent feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more intense feelings of gratitude, but at your level, both actions will lead towards large change.
You are more grateful than 35% of the adult, American population. Triggering more frequent feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more intense feelings of gratitude.
You are more grateful than 45% of the adult, American population. Triggering more frequent feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more intense feelings of gratitude.
You are more grateful than 55% of the adult, American population. Triggering more frequent feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more intense feelings of gratitude.
You are more grateful than 65% of the adult, American population. Triggering more intense feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more frequent feelings of gratitude.
You are more grateful than 75% of the adult, American population. Triggering more intense feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more frequent feelings of gratitude.
You are more grateful than 85% of the adult, American population. Triggering more intense feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more frequent feelings of gratitude.
You are more grateful than 95% of the adult, American population. Triggering more intense feelings of gratitude will help you more than trying to trigger more frequent feelings of gratitude.

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Trigger more intense feelings of gratitude or more frequent feelings. Huh? Gratitude is gratitude. Right?

No. Gratitude is an emotion, mood, and personality trait. In describing highly grateful people, Robert Emmons, the positive psychologist that wrote How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, says:

The amount of gratitude in their daily moods is determined so thoroughly by personality processes that their moods are resistant to the effects of gratitude-relevant daily life events and their discrete emotional responses to these daily events. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Gratitude in Intermediate Affective Terrain)

In English, they’ve adapted to higher levels of gratitude. Small feelings don’t make a difference – it takes concentrated bursts of emotion. For them, focusing on intensity is two to four times more effective than focusing on frequency.

But I don’t have that problem. Two months ago, I scored lower than 65% of American adults. Yesterday, I scored higher than 65% of American adults. Two months of practice was all it took to double my levels of gratitude. The one good thing at being at the low end of the spectrum is rapid progress, so don’t worry if you scored as low as or lower than me. I re-read this list of benefits when I need some motivation.

The takeaway: if you scored low, focus on quantity. If you scored high, focus on intensity.

The seven gratitude exercises

All seven exercises work, but you’re more likely to make it a habit if you pick what appeals most to you.

If you already keep a gratitude journal, consider adding another strategy into the mix. Most take just a few extra minutes a week but offer disproportionately large benefits.

1. Gratitude Journal

At the end of each day, write down a few items for which you are grateful. Moleskin journal or word document – it doesn’t matter.

Time Commitment: Two to five minutes.

  • The items you list must change and you must keep the activity interesting. Reduce your frequency or the number of items you list each time if you have to – a boring gratitude journal is a completely ineffective one.
  • The list does not have to be written. You can also say it out loud (that’s what I do).

Resources:

2. Positive Grace

How often do you say grace? Until recently, I never did – I’m not religious. But you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the miracle of life – the probability of our planet existing is basically zero. The probability of you being born on it is an even smaller zero (this is an awesome infographic).

Time Commitment: One to thirty minutes.

  • Say grace for everything. It doesn’t have to just be food.
  • Say grace to God, or say grace to Lady Luck. Grace is grace.

Resources:

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

3. Negative Grace

Remember when Mom and Dad told you to finish your food because kids are starving in Africa (or India)? It pissed me off. The first time I responded back by saying,

Well then, why don’t you ship this food over there? Oh wait, it’ll spoil and it’s cheaper to just buy them the food. Okay then, why don’t you donate some money? Huh? Oh wait, I know – you want me to get fat like you so I can run up medical bills and contribute to this country’s trillion dollar deficit. Thanks Mom.

Okay, I didn’t really say that when I was six (I was actually a very nice kid). As a coercion strategy downward social comparison may not work, but used as a tool for cultivating gratitude, it can.

On a regular basis, imagine some part of your life being worse than it actually is.

Time Commitment: One to thirty minutes.

  • Before I shower I say grace for not having to bathe in an ice-cold tundra. Before I sleep I sometimes say grace for not having to sleep on the floor.
  • Last month I read a story of a father taking the time each morning to imagine that his son had been killed. Gruesome? Yes. But can you imagine the smile on his face each time he saw that it wasn’t true?

Resources:

  • Spent, the most heart-wrenching online game I have ever played. It’s about trying to live a month in the shoes of a poor person. It’s quick and free.
  • 60 things that could be worse, from Tiny Buddha.
  • Some fun pictures of the “evil” Afghans. This is a mild, work-safe collection.

4. Prayer

Whatever your religion, there exist prayers of gratitude. And if your religion is anything like those I observe around me, gratitude is a virtue. Who would have thought? Virtue = happiness.

Time Commitment: One to thirty minutes.

  • Prayer is an especially powerful technique for cultivating gratitude because, as a ritualized system, it offers the exact words to say, specific items to be grateful for, and a person or entity to be grateful towards.
  • If ever you needed an additional reason to pray, now you have one. Gratitude makes people happy.

Resources:

  • A nondenominational list of gratitude prayers.
  • A video of Jewish gratitude prayers.
  • A beautiful prayer for all faiths, by Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the most revered Buddhists in the world:

    Waking up this morning, I see the blue sky.
    I join my hands in thanks
    for the many wonders of life;
    for having twenty-four brand-new hours before me.

5. Remember The Bad

Instead of visualizing something bad that could happen to your life, as with negative grace, visualize something bad that actually has happened, but that you overcame. Remembering the pain and difficulty with which we arrived at the present helps us to feel grateful.

Our life didn’t just happen – we fought, sweat, and maybe bled for it.

Time Commitment: Five to twenty minutes.

  • Don’t focus on unresolved bad – on choices not made or regrets left festering, but instead on challenges conquered and positives that could have been negative.
  • What better way to appreciate our current spouse, job, or living situation than to remember some of the terrible relationships, jobs, and cockroaches we’ve had to deal with and overcome in the past?

Resources:

  • A blog post on additional reasons why this exercise can be powerful, from Alive With Passion.
  • Me remembering the bad, from MANY MANY years ago:

I’m a responsible adult now, I promise.

6. Gratitude Visualization

Picture in your mind someone for whom you are grateful. Now verbalize out loud or in your mind a few specific reasons for why you are grateful for them. The more specific the better. After a few minutes, switch to someone else.

Time Commitment: Five to thirty minutes.

  • I set aside 20 minutes each Sunday to work through this practice, but like with all of the exercises, you can do it more frequently if you want faster and more powerful change.
  • You don’t have to switch to another person. You can also focus this practice on just one person, and use it as a way to deeply increase your appreciation of your spouse or other important person. Ingratitude kills marriages. Perhaps gratitude can save one.

Resources:

  • An overview of loving-kindness (compassion) meditation. Compassion and gratitude are not the same thing, but increasing one has been shown to also increase the other.
  • A comprehensive PDF of loving kindness meditation.
  • A gratitude meditation by Deepak Chopra.

7. Sensory Appreciation

We are consciously aware of less than .01% of the sensory cells being activated each second. Usually this is a good thing – if we were suddenly aware of all of the different things touching our body, smells reaching our nose, tastes lingering on our tongue, sounds hitting our eardrums and light-rays entering our eyes all at once, we would go crazy and be unable to focus.

But sometimes it’s good to turn off the filter.

Time Commitment: One to thirty minutes.

  • The next time you are eating delicious food, take a moment to close your eyes, focus on the pleasant sensations being generated in your mouth, and be grateful for 1) your tongue, 2) the food, or both. Doing this not only makes me grateful and happy – it makes my food taste much better!
  • The next time you are listening to a favorite song, close your eyes, focus on the beautiful combination of sounds, and be grateful for 1) your ears, 2) the music, or both. Remember the sense of joy you experienced the first few times you listened to favorite song? This can help you reclaim that joy.

Resources:

Get to it

These exercises are life hacks – they improve your life much more than their time commitment would suggest. More is better, but to start just pick one exercise with which to build a habit.

Let me know which one you picked with a comment below!

Remember, if you scored low, focus on frequency. If you scored high, focus on intensity. If you scored low, write a longer list or say grace more often. If you scored high, when you do feel gratitude, take the time to focus on, hold, and intensify the emotion. It will make a difference.

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Leave a Comment

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobbi Emel

Amit, what ARE you licking in that photo?!?

;-)

This is a fantastic post, Amit. All of your points are essential and I love all of the practical tips and links to help us become more intensely grateful in our lives.

I am very grateful for you, Amit!!

Reply

Amit Amin

That’s a secret :)

Thank you Bobbi, and I am grateful for you!

Reply

Sarah | Holistic Hot Sauce

I love the idea of saying grace – both positive and negative – even though I’m not religious. Because of that I sometimes forget (when sitting down to a meal.) But when I remember to appreciate how blessed I am to enjoy abundant nourishment, I can enjoy my food that much more. What a wonderful idea to spread that ‘graceful’ gratitude to all the other abundance we enjoy in our lives. Very nice article Amit! It’s especially useful to include the time commitments for each exercise.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thank you Sarah!

I too – when I remember to be grateful the food tastes better, the music sounds richer, the bed feels softer, the friends warmer, and so on.

It’s great to see all us non-religious folks (myself, Joel, Kaylee, you) accepting the idea of grace. I wonder what else religion has to teach…

Reply

Sean Goldfaden

I’ve just recently started being much more conscious of what I’m grateful for on a daily basis and it certainly has made me appreciate how lucky I am to have much of what I do. Thanks for the feedback everyone!

Reply

Joel Zaslofsky

Hey Amit,
Now THIS was a fantastic article! I’m one of those people who constantly appreciates and expresses gratitude but the level of intensity is low. I really do need to close my eyes and savor the food on my taste buds once in a while. I should start replaying Spent every month because, like you, that game to me is amazing in how it concentrates the mind on how fortunate I have been and am in life.
I’m going to start with the secular food graces because it’s the easiest to turn into a ritual. Let’s see what my wife says tonight when I say grace before eating in our atheist household. :)

Reply

Amit Amin

Hey Joel,

Thank you!

“I really do need to close my eyes and savor the food on my taste buds once in a while.”

Me too buddy. Me too :)

The one thing I’m missing is a system for reliably and continuously increasing my gratitude. Your suggestion to replay Spent is a great idea for part of that system.

Let me know how the wife took the grace!

Reply

Kaylee

Amit, this post is AWESOME. You’re so thorough, and I love the resources you posted at the bottom of each point.

I actually ran through a few of the exercises already – added a few things to my gratitude journal and did some visualization. It felt nice. =) The trick will be to keep this up as a regular practice.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thanks Kaylee!

The problem of keeping it up is no joke. It’s not just you – the biggest problem I’ve heard from others but also seen in my own life is the inability to keep up the momentum.

I’ve started reviewing the research on habit formation, motivation, and goal achievement so that I can make my how-to posts more useful, hopefully addressing at least a part of that problem.

This post and the last one are two of three I’ve produced that I can say I’m 100% proud of. Marketing folks may think it a ridiculous waste of time, but my answer on how to provide more value than average is to spend at least 20 hours on each post.

Reply

Sean Goldfaden

Kaylee, do you have any tips for keeping up with your journal daily? Do you keep a calendar, or it is just something that comes naturally to remember each day?

Reply

Jane Robinson - Art Epicurean

Best thing I’ve read in some time – because I have been in a place of deep gratitude this year. The older I get the more grateful I am for the luxuries I have…friends, family, health, hot water, enough food, money, etc. Thank for this. I am bookmarking the post and sharing with friends.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thank you Jane!

That makes me look forward to getting older :)

Reply

Claire Kerslake

Thanks so much for this Amit. I scored high with the quiz & it is amazing how in retrospect, even if something felt absolutely devastating at the time, often there are things to be grateful for in the experience. Thanks for all the resources, too

Reply

Amit Amin

It seems you’ve got a great mentality already Claire. Thank you!

Reply

Sean Goldfaden

Hey Amit,
One of our mentors for our company pointed us in your direction and we’re blown away by how much knowledge and resources you leave for us readers! Thanks so much for all you do.

As we continue to spread happiness ourselves, we’ll be sure to point them to your blog as well.

Look forward to learning more from you and the community.

Have an awesome weekend!

-Sean Goldfaden (Community Manager @ Thankaday.com)

Reply

Amit Amin

Hi Sean, thank you! I try hard to provide knowledge and resources that help.

As someone that thinks about gratitude, probably more than me, if you or someone from your company ever has an idea about something that needs to be written about, please pass it along!

If you don’t mind me asking, who is the mentor? I understand if you can’t/don’t want to answer, but I like to know who my readers are.

Reply

Ciara Conlon

I need to up my intensity, I’ve just downloaded your Gratitude Workbook so hopefully that will do the job. Thanks for another great post.

Reply

Amit Amin

I hope so too :) There’s been a good amount of interest in the workbook, so I will release a much better and hopefully more useful version in the future.

Reply

Ambika Choudhary Mahajan

Awesome quiz!
I am grateful to you for letting me know that I am not a grate-less (!!) person!
Yea, we do need to analyze ourselves every now and then to see if we are growing up as human beings and making life worthwhile for others around us.
Keep up the good work!

Reply

Jane Horning

This book could be a life-changer for you, about a woman’s journey with her gratitutude journal, acknowledging three “gifts” a day, for a year – “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thank you for the recommendation Jane! I just finished ordering a copy.

At this time, two months after I’ve written this post, I acknowledge more than a dozen gifts each day. It’s a wonderful change :)

Reply

Pam Wexler, RN, MS

This was a wonderful post…beautifully written and absolutely hilarious….a true gift to every reader. I am working with patients today on developing a spirit of gratitude to enhance mental health. Today, I thank God, (yes God!), for splendid fall colors in North Carolina, for my health and enthusiasm, for my fat cat, fresh yogurt, hot water, the opportunity to read this blog, and YOU. Loved the comments of the other respondents, too.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thank you Pam, that’s fantastic!

I look forward to the day that gratitude is promoted in the doctor’s office.

Reply

Uli Ses

Thank you! Very, very useful information!

Reply

Jovell

Hi Amit,

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Now it’s my turn :)
This is quite similar to the teachings of the book “The Secret.”
If we are grateful for what we have then we radiate positive energy and it affects all other things we do and those around us.
I try to visualize good things especially those that I am grateful for. But sometimes negative things still creep in my mind especially experiences or people who did me wrong but I can’t do anything about it because I don’t have control over them. I guess, you’re right, if we scored higher then we need to work on intensifying the feeling more so it would overpower negative emotions.

By the way, I don’t know what it is with your logo but it made me smile :) Thanks!

Reply

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