What happens when older adults take a class on gratitude?


When 15 adults over the age of 50 gathered a UC Berkeley classroom to learn about gratitude this fall, the results proved transformative. 

They were students at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkeley, and had registered and paid to take a module on gratitude from the Greater Good Science Center’s edX course “The Science of Happiness.” The course was taught by Sara Orem, an OLLI faculty member, who has written a story about the experience. 

Before and after the course, participants took surveys about their gratitude and life satisfaction. In between, they read articles, watched videos, and worked on gratitude practices at home each week, and then came to five weekly classes to share their thoughts with each other and their instructor.

Over the course of those five weeks, the average gratitude score went up from 5 to 6.6 (out of 7), and the number of people who were highly satisfied with their life doubled. But, writes Orem, “Those results were less impressive than the transformations we witnessed.”

Among those transformed were students who had come into class convinced it wasn’t really for them — only to find out, with gratitude, how wrong they were.


Read the students' stories on the Greater Good Learning Center website