Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to reflect on people and events you are grateful for, but this year, with so much bad news about home mortgages, increased heating prices, and the reality of job cuts, it may seem hard to find reasons to be thankful.

And that's exactly why you should be thankful, psychologists say. They've proved that counting your blessings is actually good for your health. Here's how.

  • Better life satisfaction. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that thinking about happy life events for eight minutes each day for three days was enough to increase overall satisfaction.
  • More energy. Researchers at the University of California-Davis and the University of Miami discovered that people who kept journals about what they were thankful for had more energy than those who didn't.  
  • Less depression. Several studies have found that people who are more able to appreciate the good in life are less likely to be depressed.

In the classic movie White Christmas, Bing Crosby's character sings, "When I'm worried and I can't sleep/I count my blessings instead of sheep." In this uplifting holiday movie, it sounds like a wonderful concept. But in real life when money worries and job stresses are keeping you up at night, counting blessings to fall asleep doesn't always seem realistic.

When life seems grim, what can you do to find reasons to be grateful? Follow these suggestions.

  • Think about it differently. Remember a time when something positive came out of a negative experience, recommends psychologist Robert A. Emmons in his book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
  • Be aware of the little things. "What makes a difference in life are the little things," says psychologist Karen Sherman, Ph.D., and author of Mindfulness and The Art of Choice: Transform Your Life. "Are there little ones in your life that allow you to see the world through their innocent eyes? Do you have the safety of shelter? Are you blessed with good friends or neighbors? Can you say that you are healthy or have recovered from an illness?"
  • Help someone else. What have you done to help someone else recently? "Most of all, can you say that you have touched the life of another person? When you have, in fact, made a difference in someone's life, you have made a great contribution. And for that, you have a lot for which to be grateful," says Sherman.