So, I’ve had it on my “to-do” list for a while. I needed to send thank you letters to a few people who wrote me letters of recommendation recently. This was my first task of the day the other morning. Seeing as I had out my stationary, stamps, and writing pens, I started thinking about all the other people whom I should thank.

I began writing thank you’s to my landlord for her help with moving me in to my new place and for making the place so beautiful. I then wrote to my stepmom who took the time to put together a photo album of my nephew and send it to me. I wrote to my supervisor for taking me under his wing and helping me to complete my post-doc hours when he didn’t have to do that.

I noticed a significant difference in the way I felt during and after this exercise, than I did when I first woke up. Instead of being mired in the muck of all my “to-do’s” for the day- this exercise helped me to be grateful for the blessings I had received that week.

Research shows that simple acts of gratitude can have a dramatic effect on our overall level of happiness. Additionally, the research shows that women tend to engage in gratitude exercises easier than men.

So get out your pen and paper and start writing down the things you are happy for today. Are you happy you got that new pair of shoes? Are you happy you have two working feet to wear them?

Dr. Colleen Long is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and practices in the Los Angeles area under the supervision of Dr. Richard Oelberger (PSY22186) . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (