The Character Strength of Gratitude is an awareness of and thankfulness for the good things in one’s life. Grateful individuals take time to express thanks and contemplate all they have been given. Gratitude can be directed at a specific person, at a Divinity, or expressed outwardly for the mere fact of existence. This strength is a mindset of appreciation and goodwill for the benefits derived from other people.
How to demonstrate this Character Strength:
Movies: Sunshine (2000), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Songs: Strength, Courage, Wisdom, Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder)
Below are suggested strategies that correlate with this strength. You may choose to do one or two of them, or you may choose to use them all. The important thing to remember is that if you enjoy doing them, then do them. If you don’t, well, to put it simply, don’t! Only use what is relevant to you and what you enjoy:
- Consider how this statement describes your mental state: “A still mind sees what is good and present. An anxious mind sees what is negative and missing.” Still your mind for 5 minutes in the morning and in the evening.
- Count three good things that have happened to you before going to bed every night.
- Express your gratitude to someone who you haven’t told before
- Every day, select one small yet important thing you take for granted. Work on being mindful of this thing in the future.
- Notice how often you say thanks and whether you mean it every time.
- Express gratitude by leaving a note for someone who has helped your intellectual growth (i.e. a teacher, parent, or mentor)
- Express thanks to all who contributed to your success, no matter how small their contribution might have been
- Express thanks without saying “thanks” – be more descriptive and specific (i.e. I appreciate your expert advice because…)
- Write 3 apprehensions that you feel when you wake up every morning. Before you go to bed, write 3 good things that happened to you and why. Then evaluate your apprehensions in light of the good things.
- Set aside at least 10 minutes each day to savour a pleasant experience. Decide to withhold any conscious decisions during these 10 minutes.
- Write a letter to an editor about an event that brought your community closer.
- Express gratitude to public officials such as police officers, firefighters, health care workers and postal workers.
- Before eating, think of all who have contributed to your eating. Do this at least once a week.
- Over dinner, please talk with your loved ones about two good things that happened to them during the day.
- Think of three past adversities and identify three serendipitous goods they led to.
- Reminisce about your best moments of recognition, achievement, praise and connection.
- Get a jam jar, a notepad and a pen. Every morning take 2 minutes before you get out of bed to write down one word about something or someone you are grateful for. Do this every morning for one month. Empty the jar at the end of the month and take 15 minutes to read all the notes out loud to yourself. Continue with this if you enjoy it.
Remember, when you are doing something in life that uses your strengths, it will strengthen you. When you are doing something in life that requires you to use your lower strengths or weaknesses, it will weaken you. You can use your strengths to accommodate your weaknesses.
By monitoring the above, you can catch when there is an incongruence in this personal strength. An incongruence will compromise you and cause inner conflict, so the above will help you keep on the right track.
Niemiec, R. M, 2017, Character Strengths Interventions, Hogrefe, Boston
Tayyab, R., Anjum, A., 2005, 340 Ways to Use VIA Character Strengths, University of Pennsylvania