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A. Being Thankful for the Little Things in Life

Narrator: This is Science Today. If you've been feeling grumpy lately, you may be able to turn your mood around by jotting down a daily list of things you're grateful for. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, says grouchy study participants who did just that became more positive, exercised more and had less health problems.

Emmons: One of the things we're looking at to do next is to actually come up with some way to analyze all of the items subjects listed that they were grateful for. But there seemed to be no limit to the range. Relationships, probably, was the most common theme.

Narrator: But getting people to give thanks for the smaller things in life is not as easy as it sounds.

Emmons: I think it's difficult in general for people - I don't think it's the norm. That's why I think we have to learn to be able to experience and express gratitude. I think the norm is probably to be somewhat dissatisfied with our lot in life and maybe that has some sort of survival value that keeps us motivated. But it does seem to be the case that we need to learn to focus on the things that we do have versus those things we would like to have but we don't.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.