Positive Effects of Practicing Gratitude

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The term “gratitude” may be outlined conceptually as a worldview adopted by people that deals with valuing positive things in life and observing them as well (A. M. Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010). Research shows that there are various benefits to the practice of gratitude in our everyday lives, particularly for people’s mental physical, and emotional health (McCullough, Tsang, & Emmons, 2004; A. M. Wood, Maltby, Gillett, Linley, & Joseph, 2008; A. M. Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2009).

While practicing gratitude is extremely beneficial in most cases, it has been shown that positive effects of gratitude can be affected by various things like gender, social standing, cultural standing, alongside other things. Two theories were proposed to explain what goes on in people’s minds during their practice of gratitude. The theories are the coping hypothesis (A.M. Wood, Joseph, & Linley, 2007) and the schematic hypothesis (A. Wood, Maltby, Stewart, Linley, & Joseph, 2008).
In the schematic hypothesis, gratitude is seen to occur as an outward emotion because of external agents that cause the individual to be driven by altruistic motives that are thought to be costly to provide or valuable. According to this theory, individuals possess internal compasses that guide them during situations that require them to help others.

On the other hand, thecoping hypothesis argues that individuals practicing gratitude usually are able to obtain more social support, are able to reframes current problems in a positive light while also looking out for growth opportunities and finally, they avoid messing with drugs when trying to deal with presenting issues. Using these ideas a base for research, several studies have been performed to compare the link positive emotional, physical, psychological outcomes, and gratitude.

In one study, psychologists found that gratefulness was definitely linked to some Big Five personality traits like agreeableness, extroversion, and openness to experiences (A. M. Wood et al., 2009). People that have traits usually exhibit better emotional control and resilience and are hence not as vulnerable to things like depression (Fredrickson, Tugade, Waugh; Larkin, 2003).

As such, it was also discovered that they were overall more satisfied in life due to their positive outlook of it (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). However, the study just mentioned shows correlational in nature and not causality; therefore, we cannot conclude that practicing gratefulness does give you positive health outcomes because of the exhibition of some of the Big Five personality traits.

Apart from that, expressing gratitude was shown to better a lot of relationships in several studies. In one study that explored the role of gratitude on the well-being of teenagers taking gender into consideration, more expression of gratitude predicted how much family support was received, something crucial to the social relationship of adolescents (Froh, Yurkewicz, & Kashdan, 2009). Another study was done that examined the relationship between psychological elements which are fundamental to gratitude and the formation of new relationships. A strong bond was found between the showing gratitude and how future relationships were going to turn out in the sense of the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the relationships (Algoe, Haidt, & Gable, 2008).

While displaying gratitude could be beneficial in some cases, there could be cases where this display could be seen as something negative to the person(s) receiving it. In some cases, subjects showed they felt indebted to the person when gratitude was shown at an inappropriate time and hence an overwhelming feeling obligation ensues (Solomon, 1995).

However, it’s crucial to point out that differences in gender change the someone’s perception of gratitude across different genders (Kashdan, Mishra, Breen, & Froh, 2009). In addition, more research concluded that gratitude was a moral virtue found to be linked to a feeling of helplessness on the receiver’s part when they received too much gratitude (Carey, Clicque, Leighton, & Milton, 1976).

In particular, if someone is offering an apology and they express gratitude throughout that apology, the person receiving the apology would feel helplessness towards the person expressing gratitude. However, the amount of time that this sense of helplessness happens largely depends on whether the person clearly breached some sort of social code in some cultural context (Mehrabian, 1967).

In sum, what we know as of now does not exactly tell us whether or now too much gratitude can be counterproductive. Having talked about the potential drawbacks and advantages of showing others gratitude, the next section will deal with the several methods by which anybody can practice some gratitude in their everyday lives. The ways by which gratitude can be practiced in someone’s life differs a lot when taking duration and intensity into consideration.

One way by which we can express gratitude involves the idea of writing in a gratitude journal every day. In the journal, people should write down three things or people they are grateful for every day. By doing this, people realize all the things they have been blessed with in life and will start cherishing them. The amount of positive experiences the individual has will then become apparent to them and it will help them overcome any negative thoughts they might have on a daily occurrence. The positive effects of keeping a journal like this has been shown in several studies (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Geraghty, Wood, & Hyland, 2010; Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

Another way of expressing gratitude involves grabbing a piece of paper and writing a letter to someone important and then hand-delivering them this letter. This is of course more time consuming and elaborate, however. Creating gratitude letters to express feelings of gratitude was researched within several schools and it was found that these letters really affected the well-being of every student that participated in the study (Froh et al., 2008).

Practicing gratitude can benefit people’s well-being and psyche and is predictive of several good emotional, physical, and psychological outcomes in people’s life throughout several instances.

However, while gratitude can of course benefit people in most cases, people should be away that expressing gratitude excessively can lead to learned helplessness on the receiver’s part and then even possibly towards the person showing gratitude. There are several ways in which someone can indulge in the expression of gratitude on a daily basis. Maintaining a gratitude journal and writing gratitude letters and handing them personally to the person are examples of this. In addition, culture and gender differences affect the amount of gratitude one can show another.


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Positive Effects of Practicing Gratitude. (2020, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/positive-effects-of-practicing-gratitude/

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