Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This post comes from an answer to an essay question.... It seemed perfect for the thanksgiving- enjoy the holidays, and be grateful...

...also it was timed- so it was written in an hour- meaning I apologize for any mistakes or incoherent thoughts...


Fall is in the air. The weather is becoming cool and crisp, and the sound of crunching leaves can be heard underfoot. It is the time to break out warm jackets and scarves and eat everything with the word pumpkin in it. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Lists of what people are grateful for will plague refrigerators right along side hand print turkeys. Is gratitude something that should be thought of just around the time we consume exuberant amounts of turkey? The answer is no. Researchers have found that being grateful has an effect on relationships and, as one researcher put it, is vital to the maintaining of relationships.

What is gratitude? It is simply saying thank you when someone holds the door open for you, or gets you what you want for Christmas? It is so much more than the words “Thank You.” Gratitude is something that is felt when someone experiences something that makes his or her life better. It can be seen as self-serving in the sense that as you express gratitude or take on a grateful perspective your life will become more positive and have more meaning, but it is generative. As you express gratitude it will grow. We can see this by looking at the four ways one can measure gratitude.

There are four aspects that go into gratitude; intensity, frequency, span, and density. Intensity refers to the amount of gratitude you feel about a certain thing. Frequency is how often you feel grateful. Span is the time period you might feel grateful about (your whole life, the last five years, etc), and density looks at how you are able to see the mass amounts of effort that had to go into one event (i.e. Graduating from High School. Are you grateful for just your teachers or for the lunch ladies, the bus driver, your fellow students, etc?) By looking at these four measures one can better understand how grateful a person is, and as they increase in any of the four areas they can see greater affects.

Gratitude is essential to relationships because it allows your partner to feel appreciated and safe. The articles discussed how the is risk that comes with any relationship, the risk that you will get hurt as you become more vulnerable. However, by showing gratitude one is able to feel more secure in a relationship. We can gain better insight into the idea of gratitude by looking at a model developed for sacrifice seen below.

*i dont know how to draw the model in blogger- im not that advanced... so imagine the below characteristics all inter-related with positive correlations*

Amount of sacrifice 
Perception of other’s pro-relational behaviors

This model is to look at the amount of sacrifice in a given relationship and how it affects other aspects of the relationship. However, by affecting the perception of one’s view of their partner we can see the same ripples throughout the relationship. By feeling more grateful for what someone has done for you, you will have a higher level of commitment. This is because you are aware of their pro-relational behaviors, and can feel more secure in the relationship. The risk goes down, and you appreciate and feel appreciated by your partner. Also as you are grateful for those things your partner has done for you, you will be more likely to want to sacrifice for them, because it is not a one-way street. These effects can be seen in trust in the relationship as well as dependence.

For a long time gratitude was viewed as a weakness. As you said, “thank you,” you were admitting that you needed their help that you were dependent on them and this made you weak. However, we can see through studies that interdependence facilitates strong relationships. Rather than having parallel marriages, living independent lives side by side, you interact, and rely on each other. Which in turn creates higher levels of trust and commitment within the relationship.

Being grateful can also help one to become more optimistic and positive about life. As you look for the good in life, you will find it. The same goes for the bad. As we have discussed in class the bad is stronger than the good. This is because of a myriad of issues. One might say for survival, or because we fixate and think about the bad more than the good, it has lasting repercussions; the list could go on and on. Whatever the explanation, we can see that the bad effects people more than the good. However what if by taking a grateful view of the bad we were able to change those bad experiences to good. Would it make the event even stronger? I would theorize that it would.

Gratitude is something that has seeped into my life. A gratitude journal has helped me to see my Heavenly Father’s hand constantly in my life, and has given me a more optimistic outlook on life. My life is good. However, that is not to say the bad has not come. One of these “bad” times came as a relationship ended. Thought of getting married and starting a future, were replaced with heartbreak and uncertainty. I went from being “happy Ellie” to simply being a shell of a person. Life seemed miserable. Over the next few months, and even years I have seen the amazing blessing that have come from that “bad” experience. What was the hardest time in my life, is now viewed as one of the greatest blessing in my life. I am grateful for it because of the lesson I have learned, and experiences I have had because of it. I am no longer that “shell” but rather have a fuller, more enriched life. When bad things do happen, I can look back and see how it all works out in the end. By looking for the silver lining in the bad, by taking a grateful perspective, one can change the bad into good, which will in essence change their life. But how can you be grateful for death or a flat tire? Is there anything that is too bad, that by being grateful you can’t turn it into a good? By focusing rather on the blessing that come from the bad, even if that is just to give you a more grateful attitude for the good that does come in your life you can have a more optimistic and positive life, which will positively affect those around you and your family life.

We can see from the research and the discussion about how important gratitude is, so why is the whole world not walking around counting their blessings and constantly saying thank you? Is this something that is a core personality trait, or rather something that can be learned? While gratitude might come easier to certain individuals as part of their personality, it is a skill that can be learned. As one focuses on trying to increase the frequency, intensity, span, or density of their gratitude they will see that gratitude will become more natural. They will find they have more things to be grateful for, and they can change their perception.

Gratitude is not something that should fill our minds in the month of November, but should be constantly part of our life. By looking for the good, and appreciating others, we will see increase in our relationship satisfaction, as well in our personal optimism and well-being. 

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