Here at the Positive Psychology Program, we have recently been discussing the power of gratitude from a variety of angles. Whether you have been following along all month or this is the first article you are reading, we hope these videos will help drive home the idea that feeling gratitude can be extremely powerful.
These are the 10 best TED Talks on gratitude, as well as the 10 best Youtube videos on gratitude.
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The 10 Best Ted Talks (+ description / summary)
These are the 10 best TED and TEDx Talks dealing with gratitude.
David Steindl-Rast : Want to be happy? Be grateful
This 15-minute talk, from “monk and interfaith scholar” David Steindl-Rast, discusses gratitude and specifically its relationship to happiness. In the talk, Steindl-Rast argues that:
“it is not happiness that makes us grateful” but “gratefulness that makes us happy”.
Since being grateful sounds easier to most of us than being happy, this is an exciting idea. This quote from Steindl-Rast is also mentioned in more than one of the following videos, so this talk seemed like a good place to start.
Louie Schwartzberg : Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.
This 10-minute talk comes from photographer Louie Schwartzberg, with an assist from the above-mentioned Steindl-Rast. In the talk, Schwartzberg presents some of his photographs of nature and explains how they can lead to feelings of gratitude with a story about life from a child’s perspective as well as life from an elderly man’s perspective. This is a good option for people who are more engaged by visual information than other types, as well as people who are looking for a shorter talk.
Brian Doyle: 365 Days of Thank You.
This 8-minute talk comes from Brian Doyle, who discusses how a near-death experience led him to start thinking about the role of gratitude in his life. Specifically, Doyle made a commitment to genuinely thank one person in his life every single day for a full year. This short talk is not just an inspiring story, but might cause the viewer to consider how they engage with gratitude in their daily lives.
Hailey Bartholomew: 365 Grateful Project.
This 12-minute talk from Hailey Bartholomew is, like Doyle’s, centered on a daily, year-long project. Unlike Doyle’s, however, Bartholomew’s focuses on photography and using photography to find gratitude in her life every day. Photographers who enjoyed Schwartzberg’s TED Talk should give this one a watch, as should anyone who wants to undergo a similar project to find the gratitude in their own lives.
Robert Biswas-Diener: Your Happiest days are behind you.
This 13-minute talk from positive psychology and happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener approaches gratitude by discussing happiness, like Steindl-Rast does in his TED Talk. Biswas-Diener argues that most people try to reach happiness by ascribing it to accomplishing things in the future, rather than looking back at happy moments in their pasts. Biswas-Diener claims that once people realize they have a lot to be grateful for in their pasts rather than exclusively looking towards the future, they are closer to reaching happiness.
Mike Robbins: The power of appreciation.
This nearly 20-minute talk from former professional baseball player and current speaker and author Mike Robbins focuses on gratitude in the workplace. In the talk, Robbins discusses the difference between recognition and appreciation, and argues that appreciating employees for who they are rather than the things they do leads to better results for everyone. This is a good talk for anyone who wants to increase feelings of gratitude in their workplace, whether they are an employee or a manager.
Dr. Kerry Howells: How thanking awakens our thinking.
This 17-minute talk from Dr. Kerry Howells, an award-winning educator of teachers, discusses the importance of gratitude not in the workplace but in the classroom. In the talk, Dr. Howells discusses the importance of cultivating feelings of gratitude in both teachers and students to lead to increased learning for everyone. This is an excellent talk for anyone who is a teacher, and people who want to learn more about Dr. Howell’s approach can read more in her book, Gratitude in Education.
Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work.
This 12-minute talk from positive psychologist Shawn Achor is extremely popular because of Achor’s use of humor throughout. In the talk, Achor starts out by discussing a story from his childhood involving his little sister, which underlines the importance of seeing the positive side of everything. By the end of the talk, Achor has laid out a plan for everyone to rewire their brains to recognize the positive before the negative, starting with recognizing things they are grateful for. This funny, actionable talk is a must-watch.
Jane Ransom: Discover the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life!
This 20-minute talk from hypnotist, coach, and speaker Jane Ransom discusses the relationship between gratitude and happiness, specifically how practicing gratitude can lead to happiness. In the talk, Ransom discusses her ideas in a very accessible way, making this an excellent way to introduce people (and even children) to the power of gratitude. While the talk is relatively long, the ideas within are engaging and simple to grasp, so people should not shy away from this talk because of its length.
Katia Sol: The transformative power of gratitude.
This 20-minute TED Talk is a deep exploration into the power of gratitude and why it works, including why a lot of people do not practice gratitude. In the talk, leadership and education expert Katia Sol discusses how gratitude is an ancient “technology” which many are just now identifying the power of, and explores some of the recent research into gratitude, including some of Robert Emmons’s work. The sound quality of this talk is not great, but the information within is very well-presented and justified by research, so anyone interested in learning about gratitude should give this video a watch.
The 10 Best Youtube Videos (+ description / summary)
These are the 10 best Youtube videos dealing with the idea of gratitude, not including TED Talks, even though some of the TED Talks listed above are hosted on Youtube.
An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of Happiness
This 7-minute video puts scientific findings about gratitude and happiness to the test. The group behind the video gathered up a number of participants and asked them about who most influenced their lives. Then, these participants called the people they selected and shared how thankful they were for them. This video is an excellent way to show how gratitude can influence both the person who is feeling grateful as well as the recipient of that gratitude. Just about anyone can feel good about watching this video which visually demonstrates the power of gratitude.
The Gratitude Experiment.
This 5-minute video is another exploration of psychological findings about gratitude and happiness. The video focused on a daily journal, and had participants either write down things they were grateful for, things that annoyed them, or whatever they felt like writing about. They found that, as research would indicate, those who wrote down things they were grateful for had higher levels of well-being. This short, accessible video is an excellent demonstration of how gratefulness relates to happiness.
Oprah’s Gratitude Journal.
In this short, not-even-4-minute video, Oprah focuses on the power of gratitude by discussing what she has learned from her own gratitude journal, an exercise she had been practicing for 16 years at the time of the talk. This video is an extremely quick way to learn about the power of gratitude, and specifically the power of gratitude journals. Since the speaker is Oprah, it may also be easier to convince friends and family to give this video a watch and start considering the power of gratitude in their own lives.
Gratitude Works!: The Science and Practice of Saying Thanks [Robert Emmons]
This long talk (over an hour long, to be exact), comes from leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons. In the video, Emmons discusses the power of gratitude, often referring back to recent research findings. This is an extremely long, academic treatment of the subject for people who are looking to learn a lot about the power of gratitude and its basis in scientific findings.
The Science of Gratitude
This short 2-minute video is a quick summary of what some of the research into gratitude has found. These findings include better sleep, higher levels of happiness, and more prosocial behavior. The video also includes appealing accompanying visuals, making this video a great introduction to some of the benefits of gratitude. The video also quickly includes some ways to practice gratitude in your life. This video would be a great way to introduce a class with students of any age to the benefits of gratitude.
Attitude of Gratitude – Children’s Bedtime Meditation
While the other videos on this list are intentionally not guided meditations, this 15-minute video is a guided gratitude meditation for children at bedtime. It is a good way to introduce children to the idea of gratitude, especially children who prefer to learn by doing. While this meditation is definitely aimed at children trying to fall asleep, anyone who has trouble cultivating gratitude might find it a helpful introduction to a meditation practice.
Gratitude Is Good For You
This is another extremely short video (not even two minutes) which summarizes some of the benefits of gratitude. This video focuses on both mental and physical benefits of gratitude, which not all of the videos on this list do. It is extremely accessible and entertaining, so it is a good way to introduce anyone to the power of gratitude. The video also includes a few ways that anyone can start practicing gratitude and reaping these benefits in their own lives.
How and Why to Start a Gratitude Journal | Gratitude Practice
This 6-minute video from Alisha Leytem, a wellness coach and yoga instructor, discusses the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, as well as how to get started on your own gratitude journal practice. The video includes some of Leytem’s own entries in her gratitude journal to give the viewer an idea of what a gratitude journal looks like, for the people who prefer specific examples. The video is non-academic and extremely accessible, so anyone who is looking for help cultivating gratitude in their lives should find this video to be a helpful resource.
Janice Kaplan: The Gratitude Diaries
This 11-minute video is an interview with Janice Kaplan about her book, The Gratitude Diaries. In the video, Kaplan describes what got her interested in gratitude and why she decided to start practicing gratitude for a year, which is the journey she documents in her book. This is an interesting video because of the author’s personal journey dealing with gratitude, and anyone whose interest is piqued by the video can learn more about gratitude and the author’s journey by looking into her book.
The Four A’s for Expressing Gratitude
Finally, this 7-minute video from author and speaker Brian Tracy discusses the importance of practicing gratitude as well as the dangers of focusing on the negatives in life. Tracy breaks down the “four A’s” of gratitude into: appreciation, approval, admiration, and attention.
In the video, Tracy explains how thinking of gratitude in the sense of these four ideas can lead to improvements in your personality, self-esteem, and eventually well-being. This video is a great way to learn about gratitude if you like thinking about concepts as the sum of their parts, rather than considering those concepts on their own.
A Take Home Message
The above videos describe the benefits of gratitude and different ways to start cultivating gratitude in your own life. Some of the videos focus on gratitude journals, some of them focus on scientific research into gratitude, and some of them stage experiments of their own.
No matter how much you know about gratitude already, and no matter how old you are, at least some of the above videos should help convince you about the power of gratitude, as well as teach you how to start benefiting from a gratitude practice today.