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  • Writer's picturePenelope Davis

The Healing Power of Gratitude

What is gratitude? Gratitude is both a state and a trait. Meaning that we can be predisposed to experiencing emotions that are positive and we can actively be in a state of gratitude. The American Psychological Association defines this phenomenon as “a sense of happiness and thankfulness in response to a fortunate happenstance or tangible gift (Sauber Millacci, 2023).” Gratitude can also be thought of as a complex emotion that acts as a transition to other emotions. Sometimes we can feel embarrassed by someone’s act of gratitude or relieved when a situation goes our way. Gratitude can also overlap with other positive emotions. Gratitude can pave the way for these emotions and helps us explore them on a deeper level. Gratitude can also help us step out of patterns of thinking that block us from experiencing the world. For instance, if we get stuck in thinking about how bad our day at work was, actively seeking gratitude in our lives can help us break that pattern and find satisfaction in what did go right. We can also relate gratitude to forming communal bonds and helping us share perspectives with others. Social appreciation can be complicated and nuanced. We must recognize other people’s autonomy and choice in whether they are nice to us, as well as our own responses.  



Studies have shown that gratitude doesn’t only promote connection and positivity, it can also help with chronic pain, insomnia, and overall well-being. There are many ways to cultivate gratitude as a state of being. For instance, we can create a gratitude journal in which we reflect on our day and write down three things we’re grateful for. This can be as simple as noticing random acts of kindness or finding the silver lining in otherwise undesirable experiences. Connecting the feeling of gratitude to the experience is a major part of the journaling process. Teaching your brain to make connections between the feeling of gratitude and everyday experiences. The important thing is committing to the process of reflecting and writing in the gratitude journal as often as possible. 


If you would like to learn more about gratitude and other aspects of Positive Psychology, feel free to check out our 10-week Positive Psychology group. 




Sources: 

Sauber Millacci, T. (2023, October 3). What is gratitude and why is it so important?. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-appreciation/ 

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