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Gratitude, happiness and hope with Dr. Charlotte Witvliet

Two for You — take two minutes to live and lead with intention

Episode 2.3

To boost your present happiness and increase your hope for the future, tap into your gratitude. Dr. Charlotte Witvliet shares the traits of hopeful people and how you can work to increase your happiness and hope for you and your community.



Note: Two for You written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.

[Lori] Hello and welcome to Two for You. Today we're excited to talk with Dr. Charlotte Witvliet from Hope College and learn about her research on the connections between gratitude, happiness and hope. Welcome Charlotte.

[Dr. Witvliet] Thank you so much, Lori.

[Lori] In your research Charlotte have you found that there are certain characteristics that hopeful people have?

[Dr. Witvliet] Yes, we have we have found that people who are more hopeful are also more self-controlled, patient, forgiving, and grateful, with gratitude being the strongest predictor that outperforms all of the others. So I like to think of Hope as functioning sort of like a wheel that's moving us forward toward a particular destination and in that metaphor, patience and self-control and forgiveness are like spokes on the wheel. Gratitude is like the hub on which the hope wheel pivots. And it does that for two different kinds of hope. Goal-focused hope, which incorporates our motivations and our ability to think of alternate routes to reach our destination or our goal. It also does this for integrative hope, which combines our motivations, emotions, relationships, and spirituality. And gratitude also does this for happiness and flourishing, which incorporates not only feeling good but also functioning well in community, in relationships with meaning and with purpose.

[Denise] Alright, that's wonderful. So when people are pursuing a goal or a meaningful goal is there something that they can do to increase their hope during that process?

[Dr. Witvliet] Yes, I think that they can and this is based on an experiment we did with random assignment to different conditions. So think of a time in the past where you faced a similar experience of hoping and of having that hope fulfilled and write about it. Write about what you learned, your motivation, the steps you took, the way that you grew spiritually, the way you grew with strengths and virtues and in your relationships. Name what you are grateful for and also name who you're grateful to. It's a way we can appreciatively remember the good gifts and givers in our lives and this also propels our hope and our happiness.

[Denise] Thank you Dr. Witvliet. As we move forward this next month we challenge you to practice these tips we've heard today, so you can live and lead with intention.

[Dr. Witvliet] Thank You Denise and Lori.

[Lori] Thank you.

Authors: Lori Rothstein and Denise Stromme, former Extension educators

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