A core goal of positive education is to help students anticipate, initiate, experience, prolong, and build positive emotional experiences. It is believed that helping young people to live lives abundant in positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, hope, pride, love, awe, and inspiration is a worthy goal in itself. In addition, recent research has found that experiencing positive emotions has benefits for mental and physical health, social relationships, and academic outcomes (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).
However, when applying the model of positive education, it is important to encourage individuals to cultivate and enhance positive emotions without avoiding, suppressing, or denying negative reactions or emotions. An overarching objective is to help students understand that all emotions are normal, valid, and important parts of life.
As positive emotions are fleeting in nature, the key is not to grasp positive states too tightly, but to increase the frequency of positive emotions throughout daily life (Fredrickson, 2009).
One particular strategy that has been researched and explored as a successful strategy in increasing the frequency of positive emotions is gratitude.
There are several reasons why gratitude may effectively enhance positive emotions and wellbeing:
Gratitude is believed to encourage the savouring of positive experiences, thereby maximising the satisfaction that is derived from the (Froh, Kashdan, Ozimkowski, & Miller, 2009).
Gratitude may direct attention to positive experiences and combat the negativity bias.
Individuals with a grateful disposition have been found to be less focused on materialistic pursuits and more satisfied with what they already have than less grateful people (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono, & Wilson, 2011; Polak & McCullough, 2006).
Furthermore, gratitude has been found to play an important role in relationship formation, development, and enhancement (Algoe, Haidt, & Gable, 2008).
Try keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’ for 14 days. Each day write down three things that you are thankful for. (This activity may also be called ‘Three Good Things, or ‘What Went Well.’)
Write a heartfelt letter to someone to whom you feel really grateful. Be specific about what you are thankful for. Visit this person if possible and read your letter to them face to face. If this is not possible read it over the phone, or send it to them.
Examples of ‘Three Good Things’ from our classrooms
Harry - Class 1J
When I got up this morning my brother cuddled me.
I liked playing with my friends at playtime and lunchtime.
After school I got to play soccer with my friends.
Nahuel - Class 1J
I played chasey and I caught the girls.
I got a raffle ticket at playtime.
I played on the play equipment after school.
"Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur everyday, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom." Benjamin Franklin
Lee Jellis Wellbeing Co-ordinator