Gratitude and Happiness among College Students

Gratitude and Happiness among College Students

Euphoria… Felicity… Happiness… This genre of emotion has been one of the sensations that humanity has been seeking. People are hard-wired to seek gratifying experiences.  A number of behaviors have been fueled by this sentiment. Many individuals engage in different behaviors just to attain this feeling. More than a few have embraced a pill-popping culture due to depression. With the surmounting intricacies of life, problems have been fueling minds to seek ways on how to battle subdued emotional states.

Undeniably, happiness is likewise an essential matter to university students. They normally face quite a few challenges within the school campus. Besides the usual stressor of being a teen, they may be pressured with academic requirements as well as extra and co-curricular activities. Moreover, they face a transitional stage characterized by the need to adapt and establish a new identity and support groups. Furthermore, college students can feel inadequate due to academic stressors. It is then a common observation that some college students exhibit negative emotional states inside the classroom. In fact,

Filipino students are pressured to excel or complete a degree, lest they bring dishonor to their family and friends, and endanger their employment and life prospects. In this respect, academic-related matters are salient issues for individual students and in their relationships and conflict with parents; these too can induce higher levels of depressive symptoms in students (Lee, Sta. Maria, Estanislao, & Rodriquez, 2013, p. 2).

Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Happiness among College Students

One of the proven ways on how to achieve happiness is through thankfulness. Indeed, gratitude has a significant effect on happiness (Seligman, Steen, & Peterson, 2005). Acquiring an attitude of gratitude enriches human existence. Being thankful enthuses, invigorates, and enhances mindsets. Without this grand virtue, life may be dismal and acrimonious. However, cultivating gratitude may be rigorous. Some people find it hard to give up the “victim mentality”. For instance, a college student who has grown to feel more comfortable to focus on the disadvantages of his over-seas-working-mother being away all the time may adopt a victim mentality. He blames his mother for being seemingly uncaring and enhances a self-pity attitude. He then uses this as a reason for his inability to academically perform well. However, he does not see the perspective that his mother is sacrificing much for his educational pursuits. He fails to be thankful of his opportunity to advance his education because of his mothers’ persistent efforts.  If every trial will be seen as a ladder towards success, one will never go through the dampening feelings of being a victim. It takes much effort to have a sense of autonomy and optimism. Change is always a challenge, particularly in the beginning. However, with gratitude, it is hoped that negative patterns will be changed. The following paragraphs delve into the studies of how gratitude can lead to happiness.

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There is no doubt that being grateful feels great. In fact, it has been associated with feelings of being energized, alert, and keen (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002). Besides positive emotions, gratitude has been associated with pleasurable physical sensations. For example, subjects have felt that they have undergone muscle relaxation when asked to remember events that they are thankful for. Psychology majors may use this knowledge in alleviating personal stress as well as in advising their peers.

Gratitude is valuable to individuals. Survey has indicated that 800 respondents have rated “grateful” as one of the top 4% of likeable traits (Dumas, Johnson, & Lynch, 2002). In addition, being “ungrateful” has been evaluated as one of the most negative traits. Since teens generally place prime value on peer affiliations, they may realize that they can maintain more positive relationships by being a thankful individual. A grateful person has the tendency to appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Being thankful is a quality that supports innate goodness in both philosophical and theological viewpoints. Holy texts of various beliefs indicate gratitude as one of the central virtues. Cicero quaintly stated that it develops personality and is the embodiment of the other positive characteristics (Arrien, 2011).  In Thessalonians, it is said that “in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”; writer, Alexis de Tocqueville described it as “a habit of the heart”; a Benedictine Monk, David Radst said that “gratefulness is the inner gesture of giving meaning to our life by receiving life as a gift”. Hence, cultivating gratitude has been essential in a myriad of civilizations. Like “love”, each language has its respective way of saying “thank you”. Gratitude crosses cultural and generational differences.

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