G... is for Gratitude

The Psychologist A to Z continues.

Suggested by Lilian Jans-Beken, a PhD candidate in psychology at the Open University Netherlands @lilianjansbeken

Tweet your suggestions for any letter to @psychmag using the hashtag #PsychAtoZ or email the editor on [email protected]

'Gratitude promotes the wellbeing of the person who feels grateful, but it is also beneficial for the wellbeing of others. This social component of gratitude promotes relationships that are important for social support. When you transform feeling grateful into a habit, you can develop a grateful trait that shows to be beneficial in both wellbeing and mental health related problems. So let’s appreciate gratitude!’

In a 2013 study reported on our Research Digest, Amy Blume-Marcovici’s team found that therapists’ tears during sessions were often associated with gratitude, suggesting such tears ‘are different in nature than tears shed in daily life’.

In their 2007 article for us, Alex Wood (then of the University of Warwick) and colleagues discussed research suggesting that grateful people have better social relationships, characterised by greater closeness and heightened reciprocal social support.

Professor Richard Bentall, in his 2011 ‘One on One’, felt the world should be grateful he decided not to become a pilot. ‘I’m far too neurotic… Instead of the laconic “Ladies and gentleman, we seem to have a bit of a problem with our wing falling off, so please tighten your seatbelts as we will be landing shortly”, the passengers would hear a Basil Fawlty-like cry of despair from the cockpit.’

‘Gratitude exercises’ can actually lead to reductions in self-esteem for some people, according to a 2011 Sergeant and Mongrain study covered on our Research Digest.

- Image by Karla Novak. Tweet your suggestions for remaining letters @psychmag using #PsychAtoZ

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