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Keeping a gratitude journal increases motivation

A study has found that keeping a daily gratitude journal for two weeks was correlated with an increase in academic motivations.

We’ve all heard about the potential positive power of gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude is said to have many values, and one of those might be that it keeps you motivated a new study has found.

Keeping a gratitude journal increased academic motivation

The study, published in BMC Psychology, in which researchers explored how nurturing feelings of gratitude can enhance motivation, found that a keeping a daily gratitude journal for two weeks was correlated with an increase in academic motivations among college students.

Researchers from Ritsumeikan University and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Japan, explored a strategy to increase motivation in college students by nurturing gratitude. The research brief states that many studies have shown that even short “gratitude interventions” (activities that increase an individual’s awareness of feelings of gratitude) “can have a lasting positive effect on that person’s mood, satisfaction, and well-being.” So, the researchers wanted to test the effects of daily gratitude journaling.

“Our main hypothesis was that engaging in an online gratitude journal by writing down up to five things one felt grateful for each day could make students be more aware of their academic opportunities — their ‘blessings’ — and help them re-evaluate their motives and goals, ultimately improving their motivation,” said Dr. Norberto Eiji Nawa from NICT, first author of the study.

In an experiment, Eighty-four Japanese college students were divided into a control group and an intervention group. Both groups were asked every day for two weeks to evaluate aspects of their daily life through online questionnaires. Only the intervention group had to keep the online daily gratitude journal. At the start of the intervention and after 1, and 2 weeks, and 1 and 3 months, participants completed the Academic Motivation Scale (AMS), a tool for measuring different aspects of academic motivation.

The researchers found that the group that kept gratitude journals showed significantly increased academic motivation, and the effect was maintained even after three months. Through an exploratory analysis, the researchers believe they have determined that the enhancement in academic motivation was mostly driven by a decrease in “amotivation scores.” Amotivation is defined here as the state in which a person perceives that their own actions are irrelevant to resulting outcomes, leading to feelings of helplessness and incompetence.

Separate research shows more benefits of gratitude

More research on gratitude from the University of California, Davis and the University of Miama has reportedly found the following:

  • People who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events
  • A daily gratitude intervention with young adults was connected with higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy compared to a focus on problems or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).
  • People who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals over a two-month period compared to subjects in other experimental conditions.
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