Brightening the Mind: The Impact of Practicing Gratitude on Focus and Resilience in Learning

Main Article Content

Jane Taylor Wilson


A growing body of groundbreaking research shows that gratitude has the power to heal, energize, and transform lives by enhancing people psychologically, spiritually, physically, and cognitively. This study contributes to the study of gratitude by exploring its impact on focus and resilience in learning. Specifically, this study examines the impact that practicing gratitude has on college students’ ability to focus in class and remain resilient in the face of difficulties while learning.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Wilson, J. T. (2016). Brightening the Mind: The Impact of Practicing Gratitude on Focus and Resilience in Learning. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 16(4), 1–13.
Author Biography

Jane Taylor Wilson, Westmont College

Jane Wilson, Associate Professor of Education, is a champion for the teaching-learning process and seeks to help students of all ages experience the joy of learning. After earning a BA (University of Washington) and a teaching credential (Seattle Pacific University) Jane taught in elementary and junior high public schools. After obtaining her PhD in Educational Psychology (University of California at Santa Barbara), Dr. Wilson began teaching and supervising student teachers in various teacher education programs and joined the Westmont faculty in 2008.


Donaldson, S. I., Dollwet, M., & Rao, M. A. (2015). Happiness, excellence, and optimal human functioning revisited: Examining the peer-reviewed literature linked to positive psychology. The Journal of Positive Psychology,10(3), 185-195. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.943801

Duckworth, A. L., & Allred, K. M. (2012). Temperament in the classroom. In R.L. Shiner & M. Zentner (Eds.), Handbook of Temperament (pp. 627-644). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087

Duckworth, A., Steen, T. A., & Seligman, M. E. (2005). Positive psychology in clinical practice. Annual Review Clinical Psychology. 1, 629-651. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144154

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Emmons, R. A. (2014, June). Why does gratitude matter? Paper presented at the Greater Good Gratitude Summit, Richmond, CA.

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(2), 377. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2004). The psychology of gratitude. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150100.001.0001

Emmons, R. A., McCullough, M. E., & Tsang, J. A. (2003). The assessment of gratitude. In Lopez, S. J., & Snyder, C. R. (Eds.), Positive psychological assessment: A handbook of models and measures (pp. 327-341). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/10612-021

Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds. In Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (Eds.). (pp. 145-166). The psychology of gratitude. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150100.003.0008

Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Ozimkowski, K. M., & Miller, N. (2009). Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5), 408-422. doi:10.1080/17439760902992464

Froh, J. J., Miller, D. N., & Snyder, S. F. (2007). Gratitude in children and adolescents: Development, assessment, and school-based intervention. School Psychology Forum 2(1). doi:

Howells, K. (2012). Gratitude in education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. doi:10.1007/978-94-6091-814-8

KIPP Public Charter Schools/Knowledge Is Power Program/Character Counts (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2016, from

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111

McCraty, R., & Childre, D. (2004). The Grateful Heart: The Psychophysiology of Appreciation. In Emmons & McCollough (Eds.) The psychology of gratitude, (230-255). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150100.001.0001

Park, D., Tsukayama, E., Goodwin, G. P., Patrick, S., & Duckworth, A. L (2015). A tripartite taxonomy of character: evidence for interpersonal, intrapersonal, and intellectual competencies in children. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Pellegrino, J. W., & Hilton, M. L. (2012). Education for life and work: developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st century. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. doi:10/17226/13398

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A classification and handbook. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and wellbeing. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Seligman, M. E., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford review of education, 35(3), 293-311. doi:10.1080/03054980902934563

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5

Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American psychologist, 60(5), 410. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410

Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research (Vol. 15). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Tough, P. (2011). What if the Secret to Success is Failure?, New York Times Magazine, pp. 1-14.

Watkins, P. C., Cruz, L., Holben, H., & Kolts, R. L. (2008). Taking care of business? Grateful processing of unpleasant memories. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3(2), 87-99. doi:10.1080/17439760701760567

Watkins, P. C., Uhder, J., & Pichinevskiy, S. (2014). Grateful recounting enhances subjective well-being: The importance of grateful processing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-8. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.927909

Wilson, J., & Harris, P. (2015). Ripples of gratitude: The flow-on effect of practicing gratitude in the classroom. A Journal of the International Christian Community for Teacher Education, 10(1). Retrieved September 12, 2015, from

Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical psychology review, 30(7), 890-905. doi:10.1016/j.cpt.2010.03.005

Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 854-871. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2007.11.003

Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological wellbeing above the big five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(4), 443-447. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.11.012