Mature gratitude and COVID-19

Frontiers in Psychology requested manuscripts for a special issue: COVID-19 and Existential Positive Psychology (PP2.0): The New Science of Self-Transcendence. This Research Topic aims to examine the different approaches to Positive Psychology and their influence on individual wellbeing during the COVID-19 era. Dr. Lilian Jans-Beken submitted an abstract , titled A Perspective on Mature Gratitude as a Way of Coping with COVID-19, in which she outlines a proposed perspective and today she got word that the abstract is accepted by the guest editors of this special issue and published March 22, 2021.

One of the exciting development in the positive psychology of wellbeing is the mounting research on the adaptive benefits of negative emotions, such as shame, guilt, and anger, as well as the dialectical process of balancing negative and positive emotions. As an example, based on all the empirical research and Frankl’s self-transcendence model, Wong has developed the existential positive psychology of suffering (PP2.0) as the foundation for flourishing. Here are a few main tenets of PP2.0: (1) Life is suffering and a constant struggle throughout every stage of development, (2) The search for self-transcendence is a primary motive guided by the meaning mindset and mindful mindset. (3) Wellbeing cannot be sustainable without overcoming and transforming suffering.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we all must adjust to a world that was already been scourged by conflict, natural disasters due to climate change, and other serious adversities. The SARS-CoV-2 virus forces us to physically distance us from others and abstain from important social behavior. We all experienced lockdowns and are still strongly advised to refrain from larger gatherings and unnecessary traveling. Many people have lost their jobs because of the economic decline and face poverty. Above all, there is an existential fear that lingers in our daily life now COVID-19 is threatening the lives of the vulnerable and old. The main question for this perspective is if mature gratitude can be a way to cope with the threats and new boundaries because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

You can read the article here. We congratulate dr. Lilian Jans-Beken with this publication.

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World Database of Happiness

The World Database of Happiness (WDoH) is an online archive of research findings on subjective enjoyment of one’s life-as-a-whole or subjective well-being. Next to a bibliography of scientific publications on this subject, the WDoH provides standardized abstracts of recent research findings. 

Two kinds of findings are presented at the website:
1) ‘distributional findings’ on how happy people are in particular times and places
2) ‘correlational findings’ on the things that go together with more or less happiness.

The WDoH allows an overview of the otherwise nebulous research literature by limiting to a clearly defined concept of happiness (life satisfaction), presenting the available findings in a standard format and terminology and providing fine-grained classifications by means of which users can find their way in the growing mass of happiness facts.

The WDoH is available free of charge for everybody, all over the world so we encourage readers to go the website and have a look at this great resource!

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Gratitude to God Grant

The John Templeton Foundation granted the Biola University with almost $4,000,000 to further the study of Gratitude to God. The Gratitude to God project intents to employ conceptual and empirical methods to investigate the nature of Gratitude to God and to grasp its differences and relations compared to person-to-person gratitude, and more broadly, to illuminate the nature of a fundamental affective process within the psychology of religion. Dr. Lilian Jans-Beken submitted a letter of intent to this project in collaboration with dr. Paul T.P. Wong, and she received word that she is invited to submit a full proposal to the project. 

The research question that is presented in the proposal Mature gratitude based on the transformation of suffering is threefold. First, with the proposed study we want to look further into two dimensions – horizontal and vertical – of mature gratitude. We propose that the vertical dimension includes Gratitude to God. Second, we want to look into the proximal virtues of mature gratitude to determine other virtues important to mature gratitude to cultivate. Third, we want to conduct an experiment to see whether a writing intervention can contribute to cultivating mature gratitude.

We congratulate dr. Lilian Jans-Beken with this succes and wish her all the best with the next submission!

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Today, we received word that dr. Lilian Jans-Beken will be presenting about Existential Gratitude at the annual conference of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies. The conference will be held at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from 25 to 28 of August, 2020. We are very pleased with this scientific representation of the Thriving Human Science Center and the presentation of our research on Existential Gratitude. 

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Call for abstracts!

Humans all over the world face overwhelming threats, but also, threats on a smaller scale. Coping with adversities can be very challenging. To do so, people need the psychological ability to deal flexibly with the encountered obstacles, to invest in those things that are meaningful to them, and to accept what cannot be changed in the course of life. A pathway to psychological flexibility and post-traumatic growth can be the virtue of existential gratitude, which is referring to being grateful for suffering as a blessing in disguise and an opportunity to grow. Virtues are personal qualities that reflect moral excellence, and they are considered the foundations for a good and meaningful life.

In this symposium, we focus on virtues that are fundamental to existential gratitude: humility, hope, gratitude, forgiveness, courage, and spirituality. Humility is the strength of an accurate view of oneself, teachability and appreciation of others (Nielsen & Marrone, 2018). Hope motivates people to direct energy towards a certain goal or future, and planning all that is needed to meet these end states (Edwards, Rand, Lopez, & Snyder, 2007). Gratitude is a life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in life (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010). Forgiveness is the human strength to replace emotions such as anger, fear, hurt, and bitterness with emotions such as peace, love, and joy when dealing with someone hurtful (Toussaint & Friedman, 2009). Courage is the strength to embrace the dark side of human existence and to make positive changes in our own lives (Wong, 2019). Spirituality is a natural disposition to belief in a higher power or supernatural world that supports an individual’s ability to handle challenges of life (Ramsey, 2012). These virtues, and perhaps others, are thought to be cornerstones of existential gratitude. They interact in a dialectical and dynamical way to support the psychological flexibility to be thankful for all that has happened in life, both good and bad. Together, they strengthen individuals and encourages them to grow after adversity and thrive.  

Dr. Lilian Jans-Beken will be organizing this symposium during the Meaning Conference in Toronto which is held from July 30 to August 2, 2020. She is looking for additional papers to be presented during this event. If your research matches the topic of the symposium, and you are willing to travel to Toronto CA next year, please submit you abstract with the form below before January 15, 2020. Details about the conference — venue, speakers, fees — can be found on the website of the International Network on Personal Meaning

Please forward this message to any person that might be interested in participating in this symposium. The program is preliminary, and women and POC are approached to be invited as keynote speaker. 

Abstract Submission


  • Edwards, L., Rand, K. L., Lopez, S. J., & Snyder, C. R. (2007). Understanding hope: A review of measurement and construct validity research.
  • Nielsen, R., & Marrone, J. A. (2018). Humility: Our Current Understanding of the Construct and its Role in Organizations. International Journal of Management Reviews20(4), 805–824.
  • Ramsey, J. L. (2012). Spirituality and aging: Cognitive, affective, and relational pathways to resiliency. Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics32, 131.
  • Toussaint, L., & Friedman, P. (2009). Forgiveness, gratitude, and well-being: The mediating role of affect and beliefs. Journal of Happiness Studies10(6), 635–654.
  • Wong, P. T. P. (2019, May 14). The positive education of character building: CasMac. Retrieved from
  • Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review30(7), 890–905.

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Top 1% Peer Review Award

On September 17th 2019, dr. Lilian Jans-Beken received the Top 1% Peer Review Award in the field Psychiatry and Psychology by Publons

Rankings are calculated by number of verified pre-publication reviews performed and added to Publons between 1 September 2018 and 1 September 2019. Reviews were attributed to a field based on the journal the review was performed for.

Congratulate dr. Lilian Jans-Beken in the comment section below!

TTHSC team

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Best Dissertation Award 2019

Today, dr. Lilian Jans-Beken received an honorable mention for the Best Dissertation Award 2019 from the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS). This society is a global organization with a mission to promote and encourage research in the field of quality-of-life (QOL), happiness, and well-being studies. ISQOLS has become a globally-recognized professional organization, with its own publications, journals, conferences, and identity. ISQOLS focuses on creating a paradigm shift within traditional academic disciplines and to transform “Quality-of-Life” studies into an academic discipline in its own right. Their goal is to help with the creation, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge of the science of well-being across all walks of life.

The dissertation can be downloaded from her website.

You can congratulate dr. Lilian in the comments below!

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