is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Gratitude involves affirming the good in our lives and recognising its sources. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps us savour good experiences and feel more positive emotions, improve our health, deal with setbacks, and build stronger relationships and have greater life satisfaction. The research also demonstrated that gratitude can be strengthened through practice.
Each year my students and I engage in an exercise called, "Hunt the Good Stuff".
It engenders positive emotion by noticing and analysing what is good in our lives, which naturally leads to gratitude. We first identify one good thing that happened to us individually, it could be as simple as noticing the colours of the sunrise. Then we write them down on a post it, which goes up on the Good Stuff wall. My students and I usually read each others, which engenders greater positive emotions and we look out for similar 'good stuff' experiences.
The 'Good stuff' that is most commonly reflected on my students' post-its, referred to experiences with their parents, siblings, friends, pets and teachers. Their entries clearly demonstrate that our good experiences are based on positive connections with others.
My students continue to reflect on the good in their lives and on who and what they are thankful for in their Gratitude journals. They express their reflection in a few words, in a picture, in a sentence.
I will always remember a student's entry:
I am thankful for my father. He is always there for me.
He went on to explain how his father would make a special effort to be present for all his games. He recognised the effort and sacrifice his father made in taking time off to be present. He explicitly recognised that his father loved him.
Benefits of Gratitude
Dr. Robert Emmons explains the benefits of Gratitude:
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky shares science-based strategies for boosting gratitude.
How can we cultivate gratitude in our children?
Here are two articles that may help us:
by Olivia Rosewood
Violet the Purple Fairy learns how to make Gratitude Soup by thinking of all the things, people, places, and experiences that she is grateful for, putting them in an imaginary soup pot.
The Secret of
by Douglas Wood
This book delights and expresses gratitude for the wonders of nature and reveals a secret....
We don't give thanks
because we are happy.
We are happy
because we give thanks.
Three Good Things
Write down three good things that you are grateful for each day.
Set aside at least ten minutes every day to savour a pleasant experience.
Remember to say, 'Thank you.'
An Experiment in Gratitude