The word gratitude derives from the Latin root “gratus” which relates grace, agreeableness, and pleasing others to signify positive moods, actions and ideas. With such a connection to positive psychological phenomena, gratitude may be a supplemental antidote to suffering. Expressing gratitude can come in many forms. Some prefer expressing acknowledgment and appreciation through words, songs, gifts, or a touch on the shoulder. Whatever the case, gratitude appears to positively impact both parties, and research trends to support this claim.
A study involving 107 Filipino undergraduate students during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated those who engaged in an online 10-min task of simply listing 5 activities they had accomplished, 5 things they were grateful for, and 5 acts of kindness they performed for three weeks resulted in higher positive moods than those who did not engage in the task (Datu et al., 2021). A similar study conducted with over 1000 high school students in the United States found that expressing gratitude and reflecting on one’s benefactors correlated with student’s motivation levels and life satisfaction (Armenta et al., 2020). Another study from Florida State University found that expressing gratitude in friendly and/or romantic relationships increases both persons’ positive perceptions of one another, as well as the dyad’s comfort in voicing relationship concerns over time (Lambert & Fincham, 2011).
Expressing appreciation and taking time to reflect on the features of our lives and relationships of which we are grateful can be a useful mindfulness practice. Such a technique may be vital in moments where we feel particularly isolated, empty and unsatisfied. If you or a loved one are struggling with acknowledging or expressing gratitude, please consider consulting with the clinicians at Town Center Psychology. You are not alone.
Armenta, C. N., Fritz, M. M., Walsh, L. C., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2020). Satisfied yet striving: Gratitude fosters life satisfaction and improvement motivation in youth. Emotion, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000896
Datu, A. D. J., Valdez, M. P. J, McInerney, D. M., & Cayubit, R. F. (2021). The effects of gratitude and kindness on life satisfaction, positive emotions, negative emotions, and COVID-19 anxiety: An online pilot experimental study. Applied Psychology Health and Well-Being, 1, 1-15. https://iaap-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/aphw.12306
Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2011). Expressing gratitude to a partner leads to more relationship maintenance behavior. Emotion, 11(1), 52-60. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021557