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Week 1: Gratitude

 

"The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get."

-Oprah

Why Gratitude?

Extensive research within the field on positive psychology exhibits enormous benefits for individuals who practice expressing gratitude. Expressing gratefulness for aspects of life such as daily events, social relationships, and favors from others correlates significantly with high levels of well-being. Acts of gratitude, like thanking a friend, are shown to increase emotional well-being (i.e. happiness, positive affect).

Results of those who completed the following challenges:

  • increased alertness, enthusiasm, attentiveness, and energy
  • more time spent exercising, reduced physical ailments, and increased optimism

 

Challenge #1: Three Good Things Journal

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep to write down three things that went well that day and why. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things may seem mundane but are still important. Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?"

"Participants who counted blessings rated their life as a whole and their expectations for the future more positively than those who simply reflected on daily events or hassles." (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)

3goodthings.me is a free resource that allows you to post your good things on Facebook (it can be private or public).

 

Challenge #2: The Gratitude Letter

 

When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our 'thank you' is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise you will have the opportunity to experience expressing gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.

Close your eyes and think of someone (still alive) who said or did something that changed your life for the better; someone you may have never properly thanked. Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it either in person or via phone call. The letter should be concrete and specific about what that person did for you and how it affected your life. Let them know what you are doing now and how you often remember what they did for you. Once you have written the letter, either read it to them over the phone or in person. (Emmons & Stern, 2013)

 

 

References & Resources

Gratitude Visit: Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.

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), Feb 2003, 377-389.

Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 846-855. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22020

Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). How do Simple Positive Activities Increase Well-being? Current Directions in Psychological Science 22(1) 57.

10 Ways to Become More Grateful

Eight Ways Gratitude Boosts Happiness