Weekly Slides

Week 9 - Gratitude

By Jeff Bryan

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.

-Randy Pausch

For an overview of each weekly slide presentation, please skip below to your specific grade level.
  • To see the 1-page Gratitude Character Card and share it with your students’ families, click here.
  • For the P2 Reflection Journals, used by all elementary students at the end of the week, click here.
  • For the P2 Gratitude Journals, that you can use for this strength and throughout the year, click here.

Starting Monday and lasting until Thanksgiving, students are learning about gratitude. Gratitude is the quality of feeling and expressing thankfulness and appreciation. It is an affirmation that there is goodness in other people and the world, and that we have received that goodness. A leading expert, Robert Emmons, calls gratitude a “relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

Gratitude is sometimes resisted, especially in more self-sufficient and independent cultures, due to not wanting to experience a sense of indebtedness. However, gratitude is less about feeling indebted and more about being aware of the consideration, kindness, and generosity of others. It’s also important to note that gratitude is not about ignoring the negative aspects of life; it’s simply being aware of and thankful for what is good.

Randy Pausch, who you may know from his “Last Lecture,” is featured in the below video. For our returning Partner Schools, this video will be familiar, as he is the same person we highlighted last year. He exemplifies so many character strengths — to include bravery, perseverance, perspective…and the list goes on. Yet, one that truly stands out, as he gives his talk with only months to live, is the gratitude he has for his life and the people around him. The video below is a shortened talk that he gave on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

For his entire Carnegie Mellon lecture, please click here. If you haven’t seen it, you won’t regret it. It’s an hour very well spent. This is actually how Dr. Chris Peterson began and concluded the first graduate-level positive psychology course that Mike Erwin ever took. As Mike explains, “Chris started out with a brief welcome to the semester-long course and said, ‘I want to show you a talk that cuts to the core of what positive psychology is all about.’ He then played the 75-minute full talk, and when it ended, stood up and said, ‘Welcome to my favorite course in the world….I’ll see you next week!'”

So, why does gratitude matter?

Out of all 24 character strengths, gratitude is the single best predictor of individual well-being. And, the great thing about gratitude is that it can be intentionally cultivated. Numerous studies have concluded that gratitude is like a muscle. The more you practice it, the stronger it gets – and the more you’re able to reap its benefits. On a group level, gratitude is associated with reciprocity and social stability. When a person does a favor for you, you tend to feel thankful and be motivated return the favor. Groups that operate with gratitude, then, are usually more cohesive.

On a group level, gratitude is associated with reciprocity and social stability. Grateful people are more likely than their counterparts to feel a commitment to others – and believe in an interconnectedness of the world and its people. When a person does a favor for you, you tend to feel thankful and be motivated return the favor. Groups that operate with gratitude, then, are usually more cohesive.


To help all of your teachers and students, we have created this gratitude journal for use in your classrooms. Typically, in our slides, the activity comes near the end of the week, but this could be an activity that you use throughout the entire week. You can have your students write in the journal after they wake up and before they go to sleep (which I personally do) or at the beginning and end of the school day.

And, as a reminder, you can find all of our weekly slide presentations on our website’s Resources page here. This page is the place that we recommend you go to access all of the resources — not via Google Drive folders.

To find your grade level’s presentation, you can simply type the word “bravery” into the Resource Title search bar or sort by Character Strength and select Teamwork. Each of those options will provide you with 10 slide presentations and one 1-page character card. For a simple overview of the Resources page, with pictures and videos, click here.

Jeff Bryan
CEO and Co-Founder of The Positivity Project

Jeff Bryan is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Positivity Project. In this role, he leads the organization to support educators to empower their students to build positive relationships and become their best selves.