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Wellness: Positive Psychology & Gratitude

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Positive Psychology is a new, exciting, and constantly developing field!

Positive psychology is the “science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions’ promises to improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is barren and meaningless” (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 5).

Positive psychology has been shown to increase happiness and reduce stress

(Goodmon et al., 2016; McDermott et al., 2017).

At PENN, we have the Penn Positive Psychology Centre, which is doing incredible work in the field:

  • We are just beginning to understand how implementing positive psychology techniques can reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve achievement in college students.
  • While more research still needs to be done, early studies have shown that implementing positive psychology techniques have improved students’ mental well-being.
Keep a Gratitude Journal!
  • Gratitude journals are a way to keep track of the positive and good things in your life that you have to be grateful for.
  • In the hurried nature of our daily lives, it can be easy to lose track of all the things, big and small that we can appreciate and be thankful for.
  • A gratitude journal helps you slow down and reflect on the good things in your life.
  • Taking time to notice the positive things each day helps you keep a more positive outlook.

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How to keep a gratitude journal?
  1. There is no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal. Do what works best for you.
  2. You can just use a plain notebook, or keep the list right in your diary or journal if you already use one. There are gratitude journals that you can buy that often come with prompts or different quotes to make you think, but buying one isn’t necessary.
  3. While you can keep write your entries in a way that is meaningful for you, it is recommended that people take time each night to write down 1-5 things you are grateful for each day.
  4. It is a helpful way to keep track of what went well that day, even on days that are stressful and feel like nothing went the way it was supposed to.
  5. Furthermore, writing in your gratitude journal can be a relaxing way to help people prepare for bed and can even make sleeping easier.

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No matter how you use your gratitude journal, take some time to appreciate the people, places, and things in your life!

By Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Instructor

References:

Goodmon, L. B., Middleditch, A. M., Childs, B., & Pietrasiuk, S. E. (2016). Positive psychology course and its relationship to well-being, depression, and stress. Teaching of Psychology, 43(3), 232–237. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628316649482

McDermott, R. C., Cheng, H.-L., Wong, J., Booth, N., Jones, Z., & Sevig, T. (2017). Hope for help-seeking: a positive psychology perspective of psychological help-seeking intentions. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(2), 237–265. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000017693398

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction. in M. Csikszentmihalyi (Ed.), Flow and the foundations of positive psychology: the collected works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pp. 279–298). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8_18

Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421. doi:10.1037/0003066X.60.5.410

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