I mentioned the Greater Good web site in one of my previous posts, noting that it was my favorite new web site.
Here’s a little bit about Greater Good, from its web site:
Through articles, videos, quizzes, and podcasts, we bridge the gap between scientific journals and people’s daily lives, particularly for parents, educators, business leaders, and health care professionals.
Greater Good magazine is published by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 2001, the GGSC has been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life.
The GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: Not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well‐being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives.
We do this in many ways. In addition to Greater Good, we share the science of a meaningful life through:
- Our free online courses, including The Science of Happiness, which has registered more than 500,00 people worldwide, and The Science of Happiness at Work, a series of three short courses designed to improve well-being in workplaces;
- Greater Good in Action, our library of research-tested practices that build happiness, resilience, kindness, and connection;
- A variety of public events that feature a range of fascinating and inspiring speakers, including scientific experts, educators, artists, and leaders from the world of business, health care, and beyond;
- Our Education Program, which supports the social and emotional well-being of teachers
- Our Parenting Initiative, which helps parents raise caring, courageous kids;
- Thnx4.org, our free online gratitude journal;
- and new programs targeted at health professionals and workplace leaders.
I will certainly vouch for the wealth of resources that are available on their web site and share my experience with one of those resources.
As noted above, the Greater Good web site offers quizzes on a wide variety of topics, such as Happiness, Awe, Social Capital, and Empathy. I decided to take the quiz on Gratitude.
While I like to think of myself as being grateful for what I have, I think sometimes I forget to be grateful. So I was curious to see how a self-assessment on being grateful would turn out.
The 20-question quiz took less than five minutes, and my score was an 88 out of 105. That would translate to a “B” in academia. Not too bad, but it certainly tells me that I have room to improve my level of gratitude.
The web site does offer some advice on how to do so:
One key way you foster gratitude is by comparing your situation in life to that of people who have less than you and by remaining mindful of how much harder your life could be. It helps that you also try to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. Studies suggest that your tendency to practice gratitude brings you more positive emotions, better health, stronger relationships, and greater life satisfaction.
If you want to develop your gratitude practice, try these exercises:
- Reflect on the positive. Keeping a Gratitude Journal or journaling about Three Good Things that happen every day can highlight the positives in your life and help you stop taking things for granted.
- Write a Gratitude Letter. Writing—and then delivering—a heartfelt letter of gratitude to someone you’ve never properly thanked can not only boost your sense of gratefulness but also strengthen your bond with them.
- Imagine a different life. It’s easy to grow accustomed to the good things in life, but imagining their absence can shake you out of this habit. In Mental Subtraction of Positive Events or Mental Subtraction of Relationships, you call to mind a certain positive experience—the birth of a child, a career achievement, meeting your future spouse—and imagine how things might have turned out differently.
- Deprive yourself. In a similar vein, abstaining from a pleasure for some time can make it all the much sweeter later. To take advantage of this effect, try the Give It Up practice.
- Take a Savoring Walk. On a 20-minute walk, observe the sights, sounds, and smells you encounter—freshly cut grass, an epic skyscraper, a stranger’s smile. Each time you notice something positive, take the time to absorb it and think about why you enjoy it. On your subsequent Savoring Walks, strike out in different directions to seek new things to admire.
I’ve actually done a couple of the items noted above.
I have sent a couple of gratitude letters, with interesting results. While the people I sent them to were grateful for having received such a letter, they were also concerned that something was wrong, thinking why else would I be writing such a letter.
I also tried the Mental Subtraction of Positive Events, and wrote about what my life might possibly be like if I had never met my wife at a college party. Needless to say, it would not be nearly as good as it is now.
Both of those exercises did leave me with a good feeling, so I should probably try a couple more of the items listed above.
In the meantime, thank you for taking the time to read my post. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.