Send a Gratitude Gram! New Website Promotes Cycles of Thanks and Giving

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To be thankful, Psalm 147 teaches us, is “a joyful and pleasant thing.” Millennia later, the science of gratitude is exploring just how gratitude is linked to generosity in a mutually enriching virtuous cycle.

Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the Univeristy of California, Davis and the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, hypothesizes that Thanksgiving “works” by moving recipients to share and to increase the good they have received. It thereby creates opportunities for others to experience gratitude and for the original giver to reap the myriad rewards associated with being thankful.

A new website and initiative from the John Templeton Foundation intends to help increase this spiral of gratitude. ElementofGratitude.org aims to put the ancient insight and scientific evidence into practice by demonstrating that gratitude and thankfulness do indeed lead to giving, and vice versa. The goal of the site is to start a chain reaction across the internet, an online manifestation of the gratitude spiral.

The site hosts a new way to communicate thanks: the Gratitude Gram. This easy-to-use technology enables anyone, anywhere, to send a personalized message, accompanied by a photo or short video. The Gram can be shared through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or email, thereby nurturing the spread of gratitude across social media.

“The Gratitude Gram is a fun and easy way to activate gratitude,” says Clio Mallin at the Foundation. “Challenge yourself, friends, and family to do that visually and socially by sending gratitude grams and inspire others to join the gratitude movement.” Messages can also be posted on the site’s Gratitude Wall to showcase all the gratitude being shared.

It is striking to note how much thanks is already being offered for children, relatives, and relationships, pointing to the value of loved ones in human well-being. Other Grams feature thanks for music, freedom, God, and the small pleasures in life. The Global Gratitude section of the site ensures that visitors gain a worldwide perspective on current gratitude research, projects, and initiatives.

Sir John Templeton believed that cultivating gratitude was one of the laws of life, and he was fascinated by the ways in which science can help illuminate the value of this virtue. “Giving establishes a cycle that continuously feeds on itself in a meaningful and helpful way,” he wrote. “Giving leads to greater giving and becomes a way of life. And the natural ‘next step’ is that our sense of gratitude and spiritual accomplishment grows as well.”

Gratitude offers a striking example for growing “spiritual accomplishment” because it works at many levels of life. “You cannot be lonely if you help the lonely,” Sir John observed. “The law of giving and receiving also asks us to be good receivers. As we give of ourselves, our time and resources, our positive attitudes and loving thoughts and actions, it is also important to be able to receive the gifts of others in a gracious way, to say ‘Thank you, I accept your thoughtful gift.'”

Sir John advised that when we feel we are lacking in some part of life, a first thought might be, “What can I give; what do I have to give?” He himself knew that such an attitude leads to life being blessed both personally and in the world because “actively acknowledging our good creates more good.”