“Choose [your memories] carefully. Memories are all we end up with … You’ll have a thousand pasts and no future.” –The Secret Behind Their Eyes (film)
Robert Emmons summarizes research on gratitude and reviews the impact of it at a social level.
He closes with thoughts on cultivating it at an individual level.
Gratitude, at least initially, requires mental discipline. This is the paradox of gratitude: while the evidence is clear that cultivating gratitude, in our life and in our attitude to life, allows us to flourish, it is difficult. Developing and sustaining a grateful outlook on life is easier said than done. A number of evidence based-strategies, including self-guided journaling, reflective thinking, and letter writing and gratitude visits have shown to be effective in creating sustainable gratefulness.
At the core of all of these practices, however diverse, is memory. Gratitude is about remembering. . . . A French proverb states that gratitude is the memory of the heart—it is the way that the heart remembers. The memory of the heart includes the memory of those we are dependent on just as the forgetfulness of dependence is unwillingness or inability to remember the benefits provided by others. Do you want to be a grateful person? Then remember to remember.