Many people may think of grat­i­tude as a “pas­sive” ges­ture — you wait for some­thing good, then feel grateful, said David DeSteno, a pro­fessor of psy­chology at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, in Boston. DeSteno studies the effects that thank­ful­ness can have on people’s behavior.

But a growing body of research is sug­gesting the oppo­site is true, according to DeSteno: By choosing to feel grat­i­tude, people can make pos­i­tive changes in their lives.

Grat­i­tude isn’t pas­sive reflec­tion. It’s active,” DeSteno said. “And it’s not about the past. It’s there to help direct our behavior in the future.”

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