This time of year there’s always a spate of articles featuring the physical and mental health benefits of gratitude. But what if you don’t feel grateful? Is it genetic or what? A matter of a sunny disposition?
Well, this year, researchers at the think tank Civic Science decided to take a look at factors that actually impact feelings of thankfulness. They asked more than 2300 U.S. adults how grateful they felt for what they have this year compared to the same time last year. Of those surveyed, 90% felt as-grateful (48%) or more-grateful (42%) compared to last year.
When the researchers looked a bit deeper, they noticed some trends:
- Age didn’t seem to make a difference. The under 35 years of age did have a larger cohort that reported feeling less grateful, at around 8% vs. those over 35. And, interestingly, the oldest group had the highest amount of respondents reporting they felt “just as grateful,” which Civic Science suggests may indicate that gratitude becomes more constant with aging.
- Volunteering makes a difference. Respondents that volunteer frequently were more likely to report feeling more grateful compared to less-frequent volunteers.
- Social media use may squelch our feelings of gratitude. When respondents were sorted by time spent on social media, those who reported most social media use were the most likely to report they felt less grateful than last year.
- When sorted by self-reported stress, there was a correlation between higher levels of stress and less sense of gratitude, and the group reporting more gratitude than last year were less likely to be under a high amount of daily stress.
- While overall, higher income was associated with a higher likelihood of feeling more grateful than last year, the researchers also note that the group responding they are “more grateful this year” split roughly equally across all income levels.
So what does this data suggest? It’s important not to mistake correlation with causation – in other words this sort of poll doesn’t allow us to assess cause and effect. Yet, for our work at Wello, these correlations provide a basis for further exploration.
What do you think most impacts an individual’s sense of gratitude and thankfulness? Share it with us here!