| November 19, 2018

Last updated: November 29, 2018

Character, Personal Development, Podcast

Podcast #459: Beyond Gratitude Lite: The Real Virtue of Thankfulness

This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States. It’s a holiday dedicated to gratitude, and one in which we often trot out expressions of thankfulness.

But how much is gratitude a part of our lives the other 364 days of the year? And even when we do think about gratitude at other times, does it admittedly often take a fairly superficial and fleeting form?

On today’s show, we’re exploring the deeper, “harder” side of gratitude with my guest, Dr. Robert Emmons. Robert is a bona fide expert in his field — a professor of psychology at the University of California Davis who pioneered much of the research on the science of gratitude. Robert explains what gratitude is, its benefits, and how to cultivate more of it in our lives. He also shares why much of the content out there about gratitude is what he calls “gratitude lite,” and he makes the case that we need to see gratitude as the ancients saw it—as a human virtue that requires a lifetime of intentional cultivation. We then explore the myths of gratitude out there, like the idea that counting your blessings can make you complacent. We end our show with some suggestions on how to nurture your gratitude daily, including some specific ideas to try on Thanksgiving.

Show Highlights

  • How do we define gratitude?
  • Why has the psychological study of gratitude generally been ignored?
  • Is gratitude a feeling?
  • The foundation of gratitude 
  • Why a lot of the talk about gratitude is what Emmons calls “gratitude lite” 
  • Gratitude as a virtue 
  • How gratitude can become selfish 
  • Myths about gratitude 
  • The connection between gratitude and purpose
  • How to be grateful in the midst of trial and tribulation 
  • The happy side effects — both emotional and physical — of cultivating gratitude 
  • How gratitude isn’t just a practice, but a character trait as well 
  • Are some people born more grateful than others? Is it a natural temperament?
  • How to deal with ingratitude in others
  • How kids learn gratitude 
  • So what can we do to develop the virtue of gratitude?
  • A case for acting on (some) emotional impulses 
  • Gratitude practices for families 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Robert

Robert on Twitter

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Coming soon!