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Gratitude Gap, Holiday Slump and OMG – Our National Well-Being Scores Just Declined!

Being a research consultant and a professional coach, I’ve observed a convergence of several core elements in life that desperately need our attention. And no, I’m not talking about the new iPhone X, but who can argue that it isn’t a core element of our existence! I’m referring to several recent studies on gratitude and the upcoming holidays.


Let’s start with Thanksgiving. Hands down, more people give Thanksgiving Day a “most favorite” rating than any other holiday. That’s because of the pure mindfulness of the day and the simple fact that this one day asks us to reflect on, and be grateful for, who and what we have in our lives.

Photo by: Corinne Kutz



 “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”   – Eckhart Tolle



In a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers tracked tweets about gratitude, positive affect, and life satisfaction for three weeks around Thanksgiving (see below). On that one day, Thanksgiving, the feelings of gratitude and meaningfulness peaked, which reinforces what research has discovered about the high correlation between gratitude and well-being. Take away the tremendous sense of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day, and well-being takes a dive!


Which brings me to the next observation, the existence of a Gratitude Gap. In a national survey commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation (a philanthropic catalyst supporting academic research), 90 percent of respondents consider themselves grateful.  However, only 52 percent of the women and 44 percent of the men surveyed express gratitude on a regular basis. So… it prompts the following questions: Why does it take a turkey dinner, and an average consumption of 229 grams of fat in that one meal, to make us take notice of what’s good in our lives? And, why is it so hard to express gratitude the remaining 364 days of the year?


Renowned researcher on gratitude, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., tells us that some of the reasons are due to distractions, a sense of entitlement, and because we are hard-wired for negativity. But, what if we had a gratitude map to begin closing this gap? A pathway to a gratitude practice that includes recognizing, acknowledging and appreciating the gift, giver, and the derived benefits? That’s why we suggest using the Gratitude MAPS as an easy way to help structure your gratitude practice and attain greater healing, health, and well-being – any day of the year!


Gratitude MAPS

Photo by: kira-auf-der-heide

Mindfulness – With all the distractions in life, mindfulness is often difficult to achieve. Regularly set aside five mindful minutes (It’s not impossible!) and become more aware of your blessings, abundance, and areas of positive energy. I do this at least one day a week after I get in my car to drive home.

Acknowledge – With this greater awareness, our hearts and minds are open to choose and acknowledge someone or something good in our lives, and to be moved to action. Schedule a deliberate practice technique to reinforce this commitment to action. My deliberate practice is to put my journal on my desk every Thursday night and journal every Friday morning.

Preference – How do you prefer to express your gratitude? Journaling is one of the more prevalent preferences, as is writing a gratitude letter (see resources below). If you’re expressing gratitude to someone, consider how they would prefer to receive (hear) your message of gratitude.

Specificity – The greatest benefits from practicing gratitude come from being very specific in expressing gratitude for the most meaningful relationship, action, experience, or behavior. Once you’ve identified your preference, describe specifically, why you’re grateful for that person, experience, action or behavior. Describe how have you benefited?

To receive a copy of the Gratitude MAPS activity, see resources below.


My next observation is the reality of the upcoming holiday slump! It happens every January. Just think of the depressing sight of dried out Christmas trees, empty gold coin wrappers, and the lack of holiday glitter and cheer. Numerous studies show the health and well-being benefits of practicing gratitude – even more reason to create a sustainable practice starting now, before the slump hits! Practicing gratitude will yield access to these benefits, strengthen our resilience, and build a greater bond with our communities (think about team interactions the first week back to work). Follow this link to read more about these benefits.


And finally, data just released by Gallup, Inc. shows a substantial decline in our well-being – a turn from a three-year upward trend. According to Gallup’s research, the overall decline comes primarily from three well-being essentials: emotional health, social well-being, and purpose well-being. That’s significant, especially from a business perspective, since research shows two major factors influence employee performance: engagement and well-being.


We shouldn’t ignore the correlation between these latest findings, the well-documented health and well-being benefits of gratitude, and these anxious times. Consider your need to develop and commit to intentional activities for practicing gratitude. We’d love to hear from you. What’s one small step you can take today?

Resources – For more information go to:

DRW Gratitude Research and Resources

DRW Gratitude Webinars

For a PDF of the Gratitude Letter and Gratitude MAPS activities, email lburton@drwcoaching.com

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog!


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