By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A school’s writing project is showing the power of having a positive attitude and being grateful. Lincoln Middle School in Syracuse, New York is finding that helping students express gratitude improves behavior and attitudes and experts say it can work for adults, too.

Students begin each day by writing what they’re grateful for.

Malachi Barksdale and his classmates are writing in gratitude journals.

“I have become more positive outlooks on things and not think about the negative things going on,” said Barksdale.

Research has shown that gratitude journaling can reduce depression, increase happiness and empathy, and improve sleep and sensitivity.

“I think it helps bring your confidence up, you aren’t in a little shell anymore,” said Mia Salamone.

Students don’t have to take part or share their feelings if they don’t want to, but they must remain quiet for others.

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Experts say embracing feelings of gratitude can be beneficial for both students and adults, leading to a more optimistic outlook on life.

“I am grateful for my little brother doing well in school and getting his grades up and hanging out with people that are good,” said Salamone.

With students more confident, better behaved, and kinder to one another, teachers say they also have reason to be grateful.

The principal at the school says since students began journaling last year, poor behavior reports have dropped 40 percent.

The nonprofit Grateful Peoples is donating money for the gratitude journals so they can be used in more classrooms around the country.

Stephanie Stahl