Is there such a thing as too much gratitude? Turns out sometimes less is more

Jessica DuLong profile photo

Jessica DuLong

Published November 28, 2023

Gratitude gets credited with making improvements in just about every life sphere, including benefiting decision-making, self-esteem and stress reduction and boosting cardiovascular health, immunity and sleep. You don’t have to look far to find countless recommendations for a gratitude practice as a key to happiness.

But is making a daily list of what you’re thankful for really the panacea it’s cut out to be? Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, says the facts of the matter are not so straightforward.

It’s true that encouraging gratitude can increase happiness, but studies have shown that not everyone benefits from gratitude practices such as counting your blessings — and some people might actually fare worse. Marshaling her decades of research in the positive psychology field, Lyubomirsky, author of the best-selling “The How of Happinessand “The Myths of Happiness,” shares insights on how gratitude practices work — and when they backfire.