The Law of Attraction and the Science of Happiness

Can you use the law of attraction to be happier in life? Most people want contentment, joy, and satisfaction. In other words, most people want that elusive state of being known as happiness. The law of attraction is a belief that by thinking positively about what you want, you can effortlessly attract it to you. The science backs this up to a certain extent. Studies show that people who practice gratitude and positive thinking experience higher levels of overall satisfaction. 

The law of attraction states that “like attracts like” and your thoughts and emotions have a powerful impact on the reality you experience. According to this belief, when we focus on positive thoughts and feelings, we attract positive experiences and outcomes into our lives. Conversely, when we focus on negative thoughts and feelings, we attract negative experiences and outcomes.

The idea is that our thoughts and emotions act as a sort of magnet, drawing experiences and circumstances that match our vibrations to us. Do you really need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are cranky and irritable, then you’ll likely attract negativity to yourself and get negative outcomes? Conversely, if you are full of joy, love, and happiness, then you’ll draw more positive people and attract better opportunities. This strikes me as fairly obvious. So, I think it is a safe bet that anything you do to improve your overall mood and happiness will likely increase the chances that you’ll attract better people and opportunities. With that out of the way, let’s look at a key strategy (backed by science) to increase happiness and activate the law of attraction: Gratitude.

Activate the law of attraction with a deliberate practice of gratitude 

One strategy to leverage the law of attraction to achieve greater happiness is to focus on gratitude for what you have, even when it feels like not enough. As you shift your focus to gratitude, you shift your attention away from what you lack and toward what you already have. This shift in perspective can help you appreciate the present moment and find joy in simple, everyday things. You may even discover that you have enough!

Several scientific studies (see list at the end) have shown the benefits of practicing gratitude. One study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that people who regularly practiced gratitude had better physical health, were more optimistic, and were less likely to be depressed. They also slept better and had higher levels of self-esteem. Another study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found that people who wrote letters expressing gratitude to someone experienced an increase in happiness and a decrease in depression symptoms. So, practicing gratitude is a simple, yet powerful method to improve well-being and happiness. Wow! What’s not to like about that?

6 ways to practice being more grateful

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Each day, write down three things for which you’re grateful. It doesn’t matter how small they may seem. It can be something such as a beautiful flower, hot water in the shower, or that you can walk without pain. Reflect on the good things in your life to help shift your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings.

2. Write a thank-you note

Take the time to express your gratitude to someone who has made a positive impact on your life. It can be a friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone who has made a difference. 

3. Practice mindfulness

Be present in the moment and take time to appreciate the small things in life. Take a walk in nature and listen to the crunch of leaves underfoot and the birds twittering about. Maybe you will savor a delicious meal, enjoy a beautiful sunset or sunrise, or luxuriate in a hot bubble bath. Whatever you do, be fully present to what you are sensing and feeling. 

4. Communicate your gratitude

Share your grateful thoughts with others. Tell your loved ones what you appreciate about them and let them know how much they mean to you. Most of us feel underappreciated. So your words of acknowledgment or appreciation are likely to brighten someone’s day. 

5. Help others

Practice gratitude by giving back to others. Volunteer your time or money to a charity or offer a helping hand to someone in need. One of the easiest ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to help someone in greater need.

6. Meditate on gratitude

Take a few minutes each day to sit in silence and focus on feelings of gratitude. You can also use guided meditation if that helps. Let the positive feelings wash throughout your body and bask in them. It helps to have a smile on your face, too! 

Like most behaviors, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a matter of habit. While it’s not always easy to feel grateful in difficult times, this is precisely when a gratitude practice makes the biggest difference. By making gratitude and thankfulness a daily practice, you will learn to appreciate the positive things in your life, even amidst the challenges.


You can find these studies by searching for the names of the authors and the title of the paper on Google Scholar, JSTOR, or other scientific journal databases.

  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
  • Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.
  • Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). Achieving sustainable gains in happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(1), 55-86.
  • Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Lloyd, J. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66(1), 43-48.
  • Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131.
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