George Mason University issued the following news release:  Mar 14/09

Key To Happiness Is Gratitude, And Men May Be Locked Out

With Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and high school and college graduations
upcoming, there will be plenty of gift-giving and well wishes. When
those start pouring in, let yourself be grateful–it’s the best way to
achieve happiness according to several new studies conducted by Todd
Kashdan, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University.

Gratitude, the emotion of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving
a gift, is one of the essential ingredients for living a good life,
Kashdan says. Kashdan’s most recent paper, which was recently published
online at the Journal of Personality, reveals that when it comes to
achieving well-being, gender plays a role. He found that men are much
less likely to feel and express gratitude than women.

“Previous studies on gratitude have suggested that there might be a
difference in gender, and so we wanted to explore this further–and find
out why. Even if it is a small effect, it could make a huge difference
in the long run,” says Kashdan.

In one study, Kashdan interviewed college-aged students and older
adults, asking them to describe and evaluate a recent episode in which
they received a gift. He found that women compared with men reported
feeling less burden and obligation and greater levels of gratitude when
presented with gifts. In addition, older men reported greater negative
emotions when the gift giver was another man.
“The way that we get socialized as children affects what we do with our
emotions as adults,” says Kashdan. “Because men are generally taught to
control and conceal their softer emotions, this may be limiting their
well-being.”

As director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character
Strengths, and Related Phenomena at Mason, Kashdan is interested in the
assessment and cultivation of well-being, curiosity, gratitude and
meaning and purpose in life. He has been active in the positive
psychology movement since 2000, when he taught one of the first college
courses on the science of happiness.

Kashdan says that if he had to name three elements that are essential
for creating happiness and meaning in life it would be meaningful
relationships, gratitude, and living in the present moment with an
attitude of openness and curiosity.

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