Gauging Your Gratitude

How grateful are you today?

December 09, 2018

How are you?

Let me be more specific. How grateful are you right now?

Consider the last 24 hours: How many of these statements are true?

  • I said “thank you” to someone.
  • I did something nice to show my appreciation.
  • I can list lots of people and things that I’m lucky to have in my life.
  • I noticed when someone helped me.
  • I felt a sense of thankfulness.

Me? I scored three out of five. Moderately grateful.

To the first three items: yes, yes, yes. Just before dinner, I thanked my daughter Lucy for giving the pot on the stove a stir. I bought a holiday gift for someone who helped me troubleshoot a computer problem. Without hesitation, I can list lots of people and things I’m lucky to have in my life. 

But did I notice when someone helped me? When I replay my day, I realize there were plenty of occasions when I was being helped—but in the moment, I didn’t pause and think, “Hey, what a nice thing for you to do!”

And can I say that I felt a general sense of thankfulness? My mom likes to say that gratitude is when your cup runs over with what others have done for you. Maybe I should have, but no, I don’t recall feeling particularly appreciative in the last day or so.

Gratitude isn’t something you either have or you don’t. Some days, we experience and express gratitude more than others. We can all work on having more rather than less.

Try this: Gauge your gratitude as often as you like by asking yourself these five simple questions. If, like me, you discover room for improvement, check out our Gratitude Playbook for scientifically-validated activities designed for kids and adults of all ages. 

With grit and gratitude,

Tags: Gratitude

About the author

Angela Duckworth is a co-founder of Character Lab, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.