How would you like to make 20 percent more progress on your dissertation than you’re now making?
Bob Emmons, professor at the University of California, Davis, has found that having a grateful attitude can make that possible.
The author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Prof. Emmons has made amazing research findings about living gratefully, but perhaps the most intriguing has to do with goal achievement. He sees a positive relationship between gratitude and goal achievement.
In a study with participants equally divided between a gratitude condition and a non-gratitude condition, Prof. Emmons says that participants in the gratitude condition made 20 percent more progress toward their goals than did the other group. In addition, the participants in the gratitude condition were more motivated to continue working than were the participants in the other group.
As writers, we look for ways to make our hard job easier. We persevere. We call on our courage. We apply hints and strategies to increase our creativity and our motivation. We take note of what works for us and try to repeat the pattern in order to get that momentum rolling.
Researchers have told us that if we can generate a somewhat happy frame of mind, starting our writing and sticking with it will be easier. It makes sense, I think, that if we want to induce a relatively happy or calm frame of mind, we can choose to be grateful to someone for something.
This week two of my dissertation clients described the struggles they individually are having with their work. One feels that her advisor has given discouraging feedback. The other client procrastinates and resists writing.
Yet, in contrast to the mood each had when describing the struggles, they both had a hopeful confidence in their voices as they expressed the gratitude they feel toward their spouses. The spouses read the dissertation drafts of my clients.
I don’t know if these two clients can make 20 percent more progress in their dissertation writing than they would have had their spouses not helped them. But I was struck by the change in mood as they spoke of their gratitude.
I’m curious to hear what you think. Would you be interested to hear more about Prof. Emmons’s studies in gratitude? Would you be willing to try some gratitude interventions yourself?
Until next time,
Your International Dissertation Coach
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