International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Gratitude’s Place in Second Wave Positive Psychology

Lilian Jans-Beken, Ph.D.

Founder and Independent Researcher, The Thriving Human Science Center, Netherlands


Second wave positive psychology (PP 2.0) evolved out of positive psychology. The main purpose of PP 2.0 is to bring out the best in individuals, not only in good times,
but especially in times of adversity and suffering, considering both the bright side
and dark side of human nature. To establish a theoretical framework for PP 2.0, four
pillars are thought to be vital: virtue, meaning in life, resilience, and well-being. A
positive psychology concept that shows consistent positive effects on mental wellbeing and can contribute to human flourishing is gratitude. This paper explores how gratitude relates to the four pillars of PP 2.0 and determines what place gratitude can have within PP 2.0. It concludes that gratitude can establish beneficial effects on virtue, meaning in life, resilience, and well-being. Gratitude that arises in joyful or stressful situations seems to be able to support individuals to thrive in life.

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