Greater Good Science Center Membership. Register Today
   
 

Four Ways to Give Thanks

By Catherine Price | June 1, 2007 | 0 comments

Research in positive psychology has identified several ways that practicing gratitude can boost people’s health and happiness. Here are four of these research-tested “gratitude interventions.”

1. Write a gratitude letter. Research by Martin Seligman, Christopher Peterson, and others has shown this one to be particularly effective. Write a letter to a mentor, family member, or some other important person in your life whom you’ve never properly thanked. Deliver it in person. Read it out loud. Bring tissues.

2. Keep a gratitude journal. Studies by psychologists Michael McCullough, Robert Emmons, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and others have backed up this exercise, which involves keeping a list of things for which you’re grateful—anything from your children or spouse to the beauty of the tree outside your window. Doing so helps you focus on the positive things in your life—a practice that’s been shown to increase happiness.

3. Savor. Take the time to notice beauty and pleasures in your daily life. Loyola University psychologist Fred Bryant has shown that savoring positive experiences can heighten your positive responses to them. A key to savoring is what Bryant calls “thanksgiving,” or expressing gratitude for the blessings that come your way, large and small.

4. Think outside the box. It’s fairly obvious why we might feel grateful for grandmothers, lovely sunsets, and anything else that has provided comfort or beauty in our lives. But what about thanking the homeless people who come to the shelter where you volunteer? “Individuals who do volunteer work sometimes speak of the benefits they receive from service,” writes Robert Emmons in his forthcoming book, Thanks! “Since service to others helped them to find their own inner spirituality, they were grateful for the opportunity to serve.” If we look hard enough, he argues, we can find a reason to feel grateful for any relationship—even when someone does us harm, as that person helps us appreciate our own vulnerability. Emmons claims that such highly advanced forms of gratitude may actually increase the level of goodness in the world by inspiring positive acts in ourselves and others.

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 
About The Author

Catherine Price is a freelance writer for
publications including The New York
Times, Salon, and Men’s Journal, and
is founder and editor-in-chief of Salt
magazine (http://www.saltmag.net). She’s
serious about the Cantankerous Café.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Membership to the Greater Good

Most...

  
  

Greater Good Events

The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work
Hillside Club
January 21, 2015


The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work

Join the GGSC and Berkeley Arts and Letters for the launch of Christine Carter’s latest book


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child By John Gottman, with Joan Declaire This is a great book for learning how to emotion coach your child, written by a highly regarded researcher.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.

Sponsors

The Quality of Life Foundation logo Special thanks to

The Quality of Life Foundation for its support of the Greater Good Science Center

 
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement