The Positive Psychology of Gratitude Nudges

How are we to maintain a positive mood amidst all the demands of life? Are we more likely to achieve our goals if happiness follows us around?

What actions can we take to boost our well-being, and improve life satisfaction? As a psychologist, I have a keen interest in questions such as these.

The link between what we do (our behaviour) and how we feel (what psychologists call affect) is a topic of intense scientific study, and the last few decades have seen great advances in our understanding of positive psychology: the study of human strengths and personal growth.

Having used and studied Trigg, I am delighted to see that it is built on a solid psychological footing. The well-designed format of the Trigg journal gets its users doing things that have a positive and potentially life-changing impact on our thoughts, feelings, and habits.

Researchers studying ways to improve well-being have found that certain types of activities are reliably good at elevating positive affect and helping us to fulfil our potential. Although it’s well known that happiness is influenced by a combination of innate tendencies (such as your personality) and life-circumstances (e.g. finances), it’s perhaps less well known that intentional activities also significantly influence our moods. Activities such as working towards meaningful goals, savouring life’s good times and helping other people, all boost happiness (1).

And so the key thing is, whilst we can’t do much to change our personalities and our life circumstances – at least not immediately – setting ourselves the right goals and activities is something we are in control of. That’s what Trigg really helps you to do. And the science shows that it works.

My favourite feature of Trigg is the ‘gratitude nudges’ to help ‘recapture your happiness’. From the perspective of positive psychology, this is spot on. Indeed, counting one’s blessings is a technique as old as the hills, with the ancient practice of Stoicism being essentially a philosophy of gratitude. But this Trigg feature is also scientifically sound.


There is now a wealth of evidence to show that gratitude interventions (such as, writing down three good things that happened to you each day, for a week) can have a significant, measurable and substantial impact on your happiness, well-being and life satisfaction, and can help reduce depression (2). That’s really quite amazing. It means that you can take control of your own happiness by intentionally doing positive activities that cost nothing, are easier than vigorous exercise, and have no known side effects. Now, that’s a powerful mind hack.

In fact the only real difficulty with practising gratitude (or indeed any other positive activity) is being consistent, and making it into a healthy new habit, performed regularly for maximum benefit. Fortunately, that’s where Trigg comes into its own. To my mind, it’s a big step forward. 

By Dr Leeroy Rowland


(1) See for instance, ‘How do simple positive activities increase wellbeing?’ by Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013, in the journal Psychological Science).

(2) There are dozens of papers reporting these findings, see for example, Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009, in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.


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