1.1 Background of the Study
Subjective well-being (SWB) is defined as people’s overall evaluation of their lives and their emotional experiences. (Diener, Tay, Oishi, Heinzelman & Kushlev, 2017). SWB is also referred to as an individual’s experience of affective reactions and cognitive judgements. SWB encompasses domains such as life satisfaction and health satisfaction judgements including feelings that indicate how people are reacting to the events and situations in their lives. (Diener et al., 2017).
SWB is a broad term that refers to the different ways of evaluating one’s life or emotional experiences like life satisfaction, positive affect (PA), and low negative affect (NA). (Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2016). A Psychologist recently asked Ed Diener (A researcher on SWB) this question: ‘’ who cares about life satisfaction? Why does it matter?’’ And in response to this question, Diener and colleagues wrote an article which they titled: Findings All Psychologists should know from the New Science on Subjective Well-being. The aim of the above article is to review key findings about life satisfaction and other forms of SWB and also clarify its implications for practice in various fields with implications for researchers, scholars, and practitioners in clinical, counselling and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. (Diener et al., 2017).
Gratitude has been shown to have important implications for psychological well-being. Gratitude is a predictor for lower depression. (Wood, Maltby, Gillett, Linley, & Joseph, 2008). Gratitude has implications for higher levels of prosocial behaviour. (McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons & Larson, 2001), and positive relationship functioning. (Lambert, Clark, Durtschi, Fincham & Graham, 2010). Recent research on gratitude shows significant benefits to a person’s overall well-being and ability to flourish in life psychologically, spiritually, and physically. Gratitude may carry cognitive benefits as well, though such research is limited. Gratitude is also believed to be an important source of human strength in achieving and maintaining good mental health.
To gain a deeper understanding of the cognitive benefits of gratitude, Wilson (2016) studied college students who practice gratitude on a consistent basis to find out if they will experience increased ability to focus while learning and remain resilient when learning felt challenging. Her Study measured 110 college students’ self-assessment of gratitude, focus, and resilience in learning, and then examined changes over time produced from an intervention. An intervention group of 50 college students were consistently reminded and encouraged to engage in gratitude practices related to their learning. The reminder to practice gratitude came in the form of SMS messages that were sent every 4-5 days for three months. The control group of 60 college students did not receive any SMS messages. Those students who received reminder SMS to practice gratitude, the researcher hypothesized, would experience greater benefits for focus and resilience in learning than those who did not receive reminder SMS. The results of her study indicated that providing reminders to intentionally practice gratitude toward learning may increase students’ ability to focus in class and to remain resilient while facing difficulties in learning.