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Gratitude and Forgiveness

Positive Emotion Image Map

Gratitude is complex. It’s a positive emotion that can be cultivated with intentional activity. It’s a character strength measured by the VIA Signature Strengths assessment. It’s the foundation of a number of positive interventions that have been found to enhance happiness. Gratitude involves both acknowledging good things that happen – being mindful of present benefits – and recognizing that the sources of goodness are outside us.

Forgiveness is the flip side of gratitude. It involves responding positively to transgressions by offering mercy instead of vengeance. Like gratitude, it is outward directed and intentional and recognized as a VIA character strength.

The two are merged here both because of the qualities they share, and because forgiveness has not received enough attention from PPND authors to be a category on its own yet. So they may split apart in a future revision.

PPND articles on Gratitude and Forgiveness
Louis AlloroBy Louis Alloro:
A Creative Challenge for an Abundant Season
Aren CohenBy Aren Cohen:
Thank You Notes and Positive Psychology
By Jen Hausmann
Three Good Things: A 7-year-old’s View on Three Blessings

David PollayBy David J. Pollay:
Gratitude is the Bridge to Your Positive Future
A Gratitude Moment: The Letter
Increase Your Happiness: Build Gratitude Chains in Your Life
Gratitude: The Secret to Getting Back Up
Gratitude and Giving will Lead to Your Success
A Daily Dose of Awe and Gratitude
Create Your Own Happy Hour: Serve 3 for 1 Gratitude
Nick HallBy Nicholas Hall:

Gratitude at the Bridge House (Or ‘Below Zero’ is a Skewed Term

Kathryn BrittonBy Kathryn Britton:

Family Holiday Rituals: Continuity and Gratitude

Taking Positive Psychology to Work: The Role of Gratitude

Caroline MillerBy Caroline Miller:

The Gratitude Cruise

The Energy of Gratitude

Derrick CarpenterBy Derrick Carpenter:

Gratitude Day: A New Tradition

Doug TurnerBy Doug Turner:

The Miracle and the Irony of Forgiving


Other Resources for Gratitude and Forgiveness

Emmons, R. (2007). Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Emmons, R. & Shelton, C. M. (2005). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology, 459-471, Oxford University Press.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness. New York: Penguin Group.

Happiness activity 1 is Expressing Gratitude (pp. 89-100).

Happiness activity 7 is Learning to Forgive (pp. 169-179).

Peterson, C. & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues. Oxford University Press. PP. 569-582.

Chapter 24 describes Gratitude, while chapter 19 describes Forgiveness. Each chapter includes a discussion of deliberate interventions to develop the strength, enabling and inhibiting factors, cross-cultural differences, and measurements.

“Prototypically, gratitude stems from the perception that one has benefited due to the actions of another person. There is an acknowledgment that one has received a gift and an appreciation of and recognition of the value of the gift.” (P. 554.)

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