Experiencing Gratitude-Template

Jessica Sousa

Printable Version: Experiencing Gratitude 

Before You Read


  • In groups of three or more, select at least one person to write about each of the following:
    • “Write down five positive events that happened to you in the last week.”
    • “Write down five negative events that happened to you in the last week.”
    • “Write down five events that happened to you in the last week.” 
    • After you have finished writing, discuss together with your group how that writing exercise made you feel and compare your responses. 
  • Skim through the first paragraph of the text. It begins by talking about holidays. Why do you think it says that some people feel depression or anxiety during holidays? What is your experience with holidays?


Find the definition for each word below. Use a dictionary if needed.

  1. negativity (n.) ____________________________________________________________
  2. intervention (n.) __________________________________________________________
  3. affect (v.) _______________________________________________________________
  4. focus (v.) _______________________________________________________________
  5. connect to (something/someone) (phrasal v.) _______________________________________________________________________ 
  6. psychology (n.) __________________________________________________________
  7. research (n.) _____________________________________________________________
  8. benefit (v.) ______________________________________________________________
  9. memory (n.) _____________________________________________________________


Read the following online article from Harvard Health. 

Giving thanks can make you happier

Each holiday season comes with high expectations for a comfortable and happy time of year. However, for many people, this time of year also includes sadness, anxiety, or depression. Of course, major depression or an anxiety problem benefits most from professional help. But what about those who just feel lost or stressed or sad at this time of year? Research suggests that one part of the Thanksgiving holiday can actually make you happier. It's being grateful.

Gratitude is being thankful for what a person receives, both real or an idea. With gratitude, people notice the goodness in their lives. Also at this time, people usually recognize that the reason for their goodness is at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves. They can connect to other people, nature, or a higher power.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and usually connected with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions. They enjoy good experiences. They improve their health. They deal with challenges. And they build strong relationships.

People feel and express gratitude in many ways. They can apply it to the past. This means thinking of positive memories. And it means being thankful for parts of your childhood or past blessings.  The present means accepting good experiences now. The future means keeping a hopeful feeling. The natural or current level of someone's gratitude does not matter. Gratitude is a quality that people can successfully build more.

 Research on Gratitude

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons from the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one research study, they asked all the people to write a few sentences each week. They focused on specific topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for. They thought about things that had happened during the week. A second group wrote about daily problems or annoying things. The third group wrote about events that had affected them. This group did not focus on the events being positive or negative. After 10 weeks, the gratitude group was more hopeful. They felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more. And they had fewer visits to doctors than those who focused on negative ideas.

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman is a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. He tested the effect of different positive psychology ideas on 411 people. Each group was compared with an assignment. They needed to write about early memories. One time their week's assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness. The groups immediately showed a big increase in happiness scores. This effect was greater than any other idea. The benefits lasted for a month.

Word Count: 484

Time: _______
WPM: _______

Text adapted from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier 

After You Read


Answer the questions:

  1. The online article mainly suggests that people who are grateful_____.
    1. send many letters and cards
    2. look for the good in their lives
    3. think more about the future
    4. participate in a lot of research
  2. According to the article, what does gratitude mostly influence?
    1. good relationships
    2. positive emotions
    3. early memories
    4. school assignments
  3. Which of the following is NOT mentioned as a benefit of gratitude?
    1. dealing with challenges
    2. enjoying good experiences
    3. working more effectively
    4. increasing positive feelings
  4. The purpose of the research was mainly to_____.
    1. compare different types of gratitude
    2. describe how to write gratitude letters
    3. notice how people remember gratitude
    4. understand the effects of gratitude
  5. How does the article define gratitude?
    1. recognizing the things you receive
    2. telling other people thank you
    3. forgetting negative emotions to be happy
    4. thinking about events that affect you


  1. What are ways that you can express gratitude? In what ways can you experience gratitude?
  2. How do you feel when others say “thank you” to you? Think of an experience you had when somebody expressed gratitude to you and it had a positive effect on you.  
  3. There is a popular quote that says, “You’ll find what you are looking for.” What do you think this means? Look at the text again to find connections to this phrase.


  • What American holiday is mentioned in the text? What do you know about Thanksgiving? Do some research about the holiday to find out the different traditions that people do during this time to express gratitude. For example, some families will sit around the dinner table together and take turns saying one thing they are grateful for after they finish eating their meal. 
    • Are there any holidays or traditions in your culture that are used to express gratitude? How are these different or similar to Thanksgiving?
  • Working in a group, imagine you are going to do research about how to become happier. Work together to plan a research study you can do inside or outside of the class. Then, present your results.


  • Are there different ways to say “thank you” in your country or hometown? Do these phrases have different meanings?
  • Some people say that it is better to look forward to the future and not think too much about the past. In this article, much of the research talked about thinking of good memories from the past. In your opinion, do you think you are happier if you think more about the future or the past? Why?
  • Discuss the following quote:

Retrieved from: https://www.countryliving.com/life/g28564406/gratitude-quotes/  

    *Teacher’s Note:

    Comprehension Questions: Answers

    1. b
    2. b
    3. c
    4. d
    5. a


    This text is useful for: 

    • analyzing transitional words and phrases 
    • understanding basic research studies in expository text
    • using word families with key vocabulary
    • noticing common collocations 
    • introducing academic research


    This text is useful for:

    • finding examples of gerunds 
    • pronouns and demonstratives

    This content is provided to you freely by BYU-I Books.

    Access it online or download it at https://books.byui.edu/PositivePsychologyReadingMaterials/experiencing_gratitude.