The Atlantic

Does ‘Counting Your Blessings’ Work?

Doing so has appealed to people for centuries, but the power of a gratitude list can be misused. An Object Lesson.
Source: Scott Olson / Getty

Arianna Huffington, who once called gratitude a “gateway to grace,” was so invested in the idea that she created an entire gratitude section for the Huffington Post in 2015. Among the exercises she advocated for was the gratitude list—a record of appreciations used as a motivational tool.

The list has become enormously popular. The motivational speaker Tony Robbins claims to start each day with one, in order to cultivate an “abundance mindset.” Steve-O, of the MTV show Jackass, has said he makes daily gratitude lists “for good luck.” Proponents recommend the lists to cope with everything from anxiety over racial conflict to the daily grind of office work. Oprah has even assigned the list, claiming that it can “open up the spiritual dimension of your life.”

Studies on gratitude cite a range of benefits, including , , , and in the face of stress and depression. As the list becomes a folk cure for the globalized age, it might benefit from a

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