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The Boston Globe


David DeSteno

Gratitude pays big dividends

The season to pause and give thanks is at hand. As we prepare to gather around hearth and table, some may hold a resigned sense that though they’ll go through the motions and say the right things — the things you’re supposed to say at Thanksgiving — they might not truly feel gratitude in their hearts. It’s like saying “I’m happy for you” to someone who just got the job you wanted. The words and the feelings just don’t match.

This disconnect is unfortunate. It comes from a somewhat misguided view that gratitude is all about looking backward — back to what has already been. But in reality, that’s not how gratitude truly works. At a functional level, it’s not about passive reflection; it’s about building resilience. It’s not about being thankful for things that have already occurred and, thus, can’t be changed; it’s about ensuring the benefits of what comes next. It’s about making sure that tomorrow, and the day after, you will have something to be grateful for.

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