Contagious Gratitude: What are you thankful for?

Editor’s note: This guest post was originally scheduled to be posted yesterday—we are thankful for Frank’s post below, and hope everyone celebrating Thanksgiving had a lovely holiday. Read more below about ways we, as a community, can create ripples of thanks.

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season fast approaching, it is a time for reflection and gratitude for many. If this year was tougher than usual due to illness, physical or mental pain or financial struggle, it’s even more important to focus on what you have.

thankful for

Studies by thought leaders Robert Emmons at University of California Davis and Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami have shown that gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness. Through highly focused studies they shed some scientific light on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being.

As a co-founder of Shiny Heart Ventures, I recently launched Thankfulfor.com, a social online gratitude journal providing a forum for expressing gratitude routinely as a foundation for happiness and well-being. People come to the site and post what they are thankful for to their personal journal of thanks. People can also choose to send each Thankfulfor post to their social network on Twitter, extending the good vibes far and wide.

We believe that through the use of social networks we can help spread more positive feelings and in some way, help improve many people’s daily lives. This approach has been validated by 2009 PopTech speaker James Fowler, professor at University of California San Diego, who studies the intersection of social and natural sciences and referred to this phenomena as “emotional stampedes”.

Emotional states like happy, unhappy and neutral spread through online networks despite location. For instance, an overseas friend who shares their thanks for a delicious home cooked meal can inspire you to experience similar feelings of joy after reading their post and reflect on things in your own life. Through Thankfulfor.com and its growing community, we hope to inspire waves of contagious gratitude moving through people’s personal networks.

For the holiday months of November and December, Thankfulfor.com is hosting a Gratitude Challenge inviting everyone to try Thankfulfor routinely and then report back with stories of how the experience may have impacted their lives. We’ve already received this thoughtful story of the use of Thankfulfor in a preschool by a teacher in Boca Raton, Florida.

We invite you to give it a try and send us your unique experiences of Thankfulfor in your life.

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