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Experience of gratitude, awe and beauty in life among patients with multiple sclerosis and psychiatric disorders

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      BackgroundFeelings of gratitude and awe facilitate perceptions and cognitions that go beyond the focus of illness and include positive aspects of one’s personal and interpersonal reality, even in the face of disease. We intended to measure feelings of gratitude, awe, and experiences of beauty in life among patients with multiple sclerosis and psychiatric disorders, particularly with respect to their engagement in specific spiritual/religious practices and their life satisfaction.MethodsWe conducted a cross-sectional survey with standardized questionnaires to measure engagement in various spiritual practices (SpREUK-P) and their relation to experiences of Gratitude, Awe and Beauty in Life and life satisfaction (BMLSS-10). In total, 461 individuals (41 ± 13 years; 68% women) with multiple sclerosis (46%) and depressive (22%) or other psychiatric disorders (32%) participated.ResultsAmong participants, 23% never, 43% rarely, 24% often, and 10% frequently experienced Gratitude. In contrast, 41% never, 37% rarely, 17% often, and 6% frequently experienced Awe. Beauty in Life was never experienced by 8% of the sample, and 28% rarely, 46% often, and 18% frequently experienced it. Gratitude (F = 9.2; p = .003) and Beauty in Life (F = 6.0; p = .015) were experienced significantly more often by women than men. However, the experience of Awe did not differ between women and men (F = 2.2; n.s.). In contrast to our hypothesis, Gratitude/Awe cannot explain any relevant variance in patients’ life satisfaction (R2 = .04). Regression analyses (R2 = .42) revealed that Gratitude/Awe can be predicted best by a person’s engagement in religious practices, followed by other forms of spiritual practices and life satisfaction. Female gender was a weak predictor and underlying disease showed no effect.ConclusionsGratitude/Awe could be regarded as a life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in life - despite the symptoms of disease. Positive spirituality/religiosity seems to be a source of gratitude and appreciation in life, whereas patients with neither spiritual nor religious sentiments (R-S-) seem to have a lower awareness for these feelings.

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      Most cited references 31

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          This paper presents a new model of gratitude incorporating not only the gratitude that arises following help from others but also a habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life", incorporating not only the gratitude that arises following help from others, but also a habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life. Research into individual differences in gratitude and well-being is reviewed, including gratitude and psychopathology, personality, relationships, health, subjective and eudemonic well-being, and humanistically orientated functioning. Gratitude is strongly related to well-being, however defined, and this link may be unique and causal. Interventions to clinically increase gratitude are critically reviewed, and concluded to be promising, although the positive psychology literature may have neglected current limitations, and a distinct research strategy is suggested. Finally, mechanisms whereby gratitude may relate to well-being are discussed, including schematic biases, coping, positive affect, and broaden-and-build principles. Gratitude is relevant to clinical psychology due to (a) strong explanatory power in understanding well-being, and (b) the potential of improving well-being through fostering gratitude with simple exercises. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Institute of Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, University Witten/Herdecke, Herdecke, Germany
            [2 ]Senior Research Fellow Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
            [3 ]Caritas Science and Christian Social Work, Faculty of Theology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
            [4 ]Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Clinic Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
            [5 ]Department of Neurology, Communal Hospital Herdecke, Herdecke, Germany
            [6 ]Department of Neurology and Palliative Care, Köln-Merheim Hospital, Cologne, Germany
            [7 ]Neurological Hospital, Clinic of Lüdenscheid, Lüdenscheid, Germany
            [8 ]Augustahospital Anholt, Neurological Hospital, Isselburg -Anholt, Germany
            [9 ]Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
            [10 ]Clinic and Polyclinic for Palliative Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany
            Health Qual Life Outcomes
            Health Qual Life Outcomes
            Health and Quality of Life Outcomes
            BioMed Central
            30 April 2014
            : 12
            : 63
            Copyright © 2014 Büssing et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.



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