How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves

  title={How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves},
  author={Kennon M. Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky},
  journal={The Journal of Positive Psychology},
  pages={73 - 82}
A 4-week experimental study (N = 67) examined the motivational predictors and positive emotion outcomes of regularly practicing two mental exercises: counting one's blessings (“gratitude”) and visualizing best possible selves (“BPS”). In a control exercise, participants attended to the details of their day. Undergraduates performed one of the three exercises during Session I and were asked to continue performing it at home until Session II (in 2 weeks) and again until Session III (in a further… 

The proximal experience of gratitude

A meta-analysis of three studies revealed that gratitude exercises actually elicit a mixed emotional experience—one that simultaneously leads individuals to feel uplifted and indebted.

Feeling Thanks and Saying Thanks: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining If and How Socially Oriented Gratitude Journals Work.

Expressing felt gratitude to others appears to be a crucial step in deriving benefits, and these benefits may not be limited to the emotionally healthy.

Positive Psychological Interventions for Children: A Comparison of Gratitude and Best Possible Selves Approaches

Outcomes for the gratitude condition did not differ from the control condition; however, participants in the best possible selves condition showed greater gains in self-esteem than those in the gratitude or control conditions.

Become more optimistic by imagining a best possible self: effects of a two week intervention.

Cultivating Happiness: Effects, Underlying Mechanisms, and Moderators of Positive-Psychological Interventions

One of the flagship exercises in positive psychology is the best-possible-self (BPS) intervention, which has been repeatedly shown to increase positive affect. Yet little is known about the

Effects of Emotion- and Gratitude-Focused Expressive Writings on Incoming College Students' Adjustment

The transition to college can introduce new roles, opportunities, and challenges for growth and adjustment. Effective management of these challenges promotes personal adjustment and academic success

Boundaries of Fostering Happiness: Implicit Theories of Happiness Predict Reactions to Positive Psychological Interventions

Positive Psychology Interventions (PPIs) are activities designed to facilitate greater psychological well-being through building cognitive and behavioural habits and skills (Seligman, Steen, Park, &

Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator

To date, nearly half of the work supporting the efficacy of gratitude interventions did so by making contrasts with techniques that induce negative affect (e.g., record your daily hassles). Gratitude

Appreciating Gratitude: Is Gratitude an Amplifier of Well-Being?

The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between gratitude and certain components of well-being which are conducive to affirming life. Additionally, we also compared how experiencing

Examining explanatory mechanisms of positive and expressive writing: Towards a resource-oriented perspective

This study tested the hypothesis that benefits of positive and expressive writing accrue when the intervention matches or activates the participant’s personal resources. Students were randomly



Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.

Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits and exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies.

Self-concordance, goal attainment, and the pursuit of happiness: can there be an upward spiral?

The self-concordance model of healthy goal striving was used to examine the motivational processes by which people can increase their level of well-being during a period of time and then maintain the gain or perhaps increase it even further during the next period oftime.

Achieving Sustainable Gains in Happiness: Change Your Actions, not Your Circumstances*

Although attaining happiness is a nearly universal goal, surprisingly little research has focused on how happiness can be increased and then sustained. Three studies test predictions of a model

Personal goals and emotional well-being: the moderating role of motive dispositions.

Two studies examined the importance of motive dispositions in determining the extent to which the pursuit of personal goals accounts for interindividual differences in emotional well-being and found that the combination of high commitment to and high attainability of motive-congruent goals predicted an increase in students' emotionalWell-being over 1 semester.

Pursuing Personal Goals: Skills Enable Progress, but Not all Progress is Beneficial

Although goal theorists have speculated about the causes and consequences of making progress at personal goals, little longitudinal research has examined these issues. In the current prospective

Personal goals and psychological growth: testing an intervention to enhance goal attainment and personality integration.

Although there were no main effects of program participation on later goal attainment, important interactions were found and participants already high in goal-based measures of personality integration perceived the program as most useful and benefited the most from the program in terms of goal attainment.

The costs and benefits of writing, talking, and thinking about life's triumphs and defeats.

Students who wrote about their happiest moments--especially when analyzing them--experienced reduced well-being and physical health relative to those who replayed these moments, and possible mechanisms underlying these effects were examined.

Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: the self-concordance model.

An integrative model of the conative process, which has important ramifications for psychological need satisfaction and hence for individuals' well-being, is presented and is shown to provide a satisfactory fit to 3 longitudinal data sets and to be independent of the effects of self-efficacy, implementation intentions, avoidance framing, and life skills.

Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions.

In a 6-group, random-assignment, placebo-controlled Internet study, the authors found that 3 of the interventions lastingly increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms.

The grateful disposition: a conceptual and empirical topography.

The development of the Gratitude Questionnaire, a unidimensional measure with good psychometric properties, is described and evidence that gratitude is negatively associated with envy and materialistic attitudes is provided.