In 1942, Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was sent to the concentration camps at Dachau. Thousands died in the gas chambers, but Frankl survived. One reason was luck. Another was his will to live. He drew strength from loving memories of his wife, glimpses of beauty in nature, and a deep desire to finish writing his book.

After Frankl was set free, he wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. It has sold over 12 million copies and was voted one of the 10 most influential books in America.

Frankl’s story reminds us to be grateful. With a positive attitude, even suffering can be transformed into a life of meaning.

There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.

-Nelson Mandela

Importance of gratitude

Here are heart-warming benefits:

  • Stronger personal relationships

  • Greater happiness and well-being

  • More optimism

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

-Viktor Frankl

How to start today

  • Before sleeping, take 5 minutes and reflect on how fortunate you were today

      • Create a highly-visible cue, like a gratitude quote on the wall

  • Make it a habit to thank people sincerely and specifically

      • e.g., tell servers you appreciate their fast and cheerful service

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

-William Arthur Ward

Personal notes

When I’m having a stressful day, I think about how lucky I am to have been born in Canada. If I had been born 100 years ago, I’d probably be working on a farm in China. Even now, 3 billion people live on less than $5.50 per day.

In contrast, most people in North America and Europe live better than pharaohs and emperors. For example, I have instant access to millions more books than the Great Library of Alexandria. I listen to Mozart and Stevie Nicks whenever I want. I tap a few buttons and the world’s tastiest cuisines are delivered to my door.

We live better than kings…we live longer, eat better and travel farther than the richest and most blessed people in virtually every other generation in every land in history.

-Eric Zorn


Importance of gratitude

Dickens LR. (2017). Using gratitude to promote positive change: A series of meta-analyses investigating the effectiveness of gratitude interventions. Basic Applied Social Psychology. 39(4): 193–208.

  • A meta-analysis of 38 studies with 5,223 participants found that gratitude improved quality of relationships (effect size = 0.51)

  • Gratitude increased grateful mood (effect size = 0.31), well-being (effect size = 0.30), happiness (effect size = 0.25), grateful disposition (effect size = 0.23), and optimism (effect size = 0.22)

Ma L, Tunney RJ, Ferguson E. (2017). Does gratitude enhance prosociality: a meta-analytic review. Psychol Bull. 143(6): 601–635.

  • A meta-analysis of 91 studies with 18,342 participants found that gratitude increased prosociality (effect size = 0.37)

Personal notes

World Bank. (2018, October 17). Nearly half the world lives on less than $5.50 a day [Press release].

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