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Gratitude Visits Bring Happiness

[Martin] Seligman and his staff at the University of Pennsylvania conducted an experiment via the Internet, requiring subjects to carry out what were termed “gratitude visits.” Participants were asked to write a 300-word testimonial to someone who had had a major, positive effect on their lives. After the testimonial was completed, participants were to simply request to visit that person and hand deliver the testimonial. Almost always, the occasion elicited tears of affection, gratitude, and joy. Seligman found that even when subjects were tested a year after delivering the testimonial, a sense of enhanced happiness was detectable. Seligman, along with his colleague Christopher Peterson at the University of Chicago, put forth the notion of a palette of different kinds of “emotional intelligences” that contribute to our sense of happiness. Dr. Seligman wrote: “[C]erebral virtues — curiosity, love of learning — are less strongly tied to happiness than interpersonal virtues like kindness, gratitude, and capacity for love.”

"7 Ways to Make Happiness Last"
- Allan Hamilton, Daily Good: News That Inspires website, January 22, 2013.