Life is full of stressors and unpredictable events. Research shows that being grateful not only improves our relationships with others and brings us closer to God in times of need, but can positively affect our daily attitude, despite the challenges thrown at us. How can we hone in the art of being grateful to improve our overall well-being when difficult events inevitably occur? What does the act of being grateful actually mean?
A team of researchers involved with the Gratitude for God project have been performing studies on these questions for the past two years to explain how gratitude to God is similar yet also different than general gratitude and how it impacts one’s life.
You may think gratitude to God does not have a big impact because:
You already feel the effects of being grateful since you currently are grateful for your health, education, friends, family, clothing, shelter, etc.
You haven’t experienced hard times like many people in the world.
You think it does not matter if you are grateful to the world for the sun shining or grateful to God, since they produce the same feeling.
Others around you know you are a grateful person; therefore, you don’t have to actively express to them you are grateful for what you have in order to feel a positive impact on your life.
Our grant project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, gave researchers from institutions across the country the opportunity to study how gratitude is expressed in society through a secular and non-secular lens. This included how cosmic gratitude (gratitude toward the universe or a non-personal agent) shapes suffering and feelings of joy and if our interpersonal relationships are affected whether we give or receive gratitude.
Researchers also looked to explain the effectiveness of gratitude in a biblical sense by relating the feeling of being connected to God to the gratitude we express to Him for certain gifts, as well as the exploration of how Jesus upheld certain virtues such as gratitude, during his time among humanity.
This only touches the surface of what has been studied inside our project.
You’re Invited to the Gratitude for God Conference
As a student, you are on the brink of determining your next steps in life. Gratitude has a huge part to play in being confident in your life’s direction and how that relates to your past steps. We want to invite you to join researchers on this project for a one-day conference on Saturday, December 3 hosted by Biola’s Office of Academic Research and Grants at the Anaheim Marriott.
You will learn more about our team’s findings and how to implement them into your daily life and future careers. The event will include an exclusive panel of psychological, theological and philosophical speakers who will give you an opportunity to join the discussion on gratitude by asking questions and conversing based on your own experiences with gratitude. We hope you can join us for this special event. Discounted tickets are available for students on the registration page below.
Dr. Peter Hill is the director of the Office of Academic Research and Grants and a professor of Psychology.