Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

An Interview with Father Gratitude


Here’s an intriguing interview with Professor Robert Emmons, who is well known within the Positive Psychology field as “Father Gratitude” because he has been researching gratitude for 10 years, and has conducted all sorts of studies to try and help people practice the skill of “emotional self-regulation” or raise their happiness level. He is the author of “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”


I want to be upfront, though, with you all and say this: although I find the studies and suggestions of Dr. Emmons, Martin Seligman, and all psychologists within the Positive Psychology movement to be helpful, I don’t rely on them to bring me out of a depression. Because that’s not their purpose. The techniques these folks present are geared toward the person with a normal happiness-level, or suffering from MILD to MODERATE depression. When I used them while in a suicidal state, they made me feel worse, which is why, to compliment this interview, I am also publishing my video on gratitude, that says if you are incapable of gratitude this Thanksgiving, that I think God more than understands and is with you in your whines and gripes (at least, geeze, I hope so).


For those capable of growing your gratitude this Thanksgiving, check out the article “Enhance Happiness and Health By Cultivating Gratitude: Interview with Robert Emmons” found at, by clicking here. I have excerpted from it below.

SharpBrains: What are the 3 key messages that you would like readers to take away from your book?

First, the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. Second, this is not hard to achieve – a few hours writing a gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more. Third, that cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better quality sleep time.


SharpBrains: We could then say that we can train ourselves to develop a more grateful attitude and optimistic outlook in life, resulting in well-being and health improvements, and even in becoming better-not just happier- citizens. And probably one can expect few negative side effects from keeping a gratitude journal. What do you think prevents more people from benefiting from these research findings?

My sense is that some people feel uncomfortable talking about these topics, since they may sound too spiritual, or religious. Others simply don’t want to feel obligated to the person who helped them, and never come to realize the boost in energy, enthusiasm, and social benefits that come from a more grateful, connected life.


SharpBrains: Judith Beck talked to us recently about her work helping dieters learn important mental skills through cognitive therapy techniques. You talk about gratitude. Other positive psychologists focus on Forgiveness. How can we know which of these techniques may be helpful for us?

The key is to reflect on one’s goal and current situation. For example, the practice of forgiveness can be most appropriate for people who have high levels of anger and resentment. Cognitive therapy has been shown to be very effective against depression. In a sense both groups are trying to eliminate the negative. Gratitude is different in that it is better suited for highly functioning individuals who simply want to feel better – enhancing the positive.


To read the entire interview click here.

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  • Annie Bankss

    It is true how listing out our blessings can change our life.Few years back I felt depressed and thought that thw whole world is back of me. But once i started making list of my happiest moments and tahnked god for it. I felt God has blessed me so much that I shud be greatful to God and also other fellowbeings. Once I accepted this I have become more positive towards life and I can see more things and more people are coming towards me.
    Annie Bankss
    Get Rid Of Your Depression

  • Hilary Chaney

    When I got happy….recovery from clinical, post-partum, and manic depression. Follow me at

  • Joan

    Four women in my neighborhood have had a bookclub for several years. We’ve chosen “Learned Optimism” for our January 2011 selection. I found the learned helplessness research interesting (the first half of the book) but have a negative response to the latter half, the ABCDE (adversity, beliefs, consequences, disputation, energization) approach to optimism, or ‘curing pessimism’. The examples seem dated and simplistic, as was the test to measure one’s optimism/pessimism level. The whole ABCDE exercise seems intellectual, not bad in and of itself (whereas I work with treating my depression on a more emotional level). Beyond these ideas/reactions/complaints, I can’t quite identify what irks me about this book. It just doesn’t seem to fit me, but that won’t be a very convincing argument when bookclub meets to discuss this book. I hope you’ll elaborate on why you found the book’s method inappropriate for you.

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