A month ago, I signed up to be a participant in a psychology student’s senior thesis project about gratitude. I was very excited as I had been doing a good job keeping up with a gratitude journal I had begun over winter break.
I thought that being a part of the study would provide me further motivation to jot down my thoughts on a daily basis. So, I emailed the student researcher to express my interest to participate in the study. I waited in anticipation, and in two days I received her response:
If you are receiving this email, you have expressed interest in participating in my senior thesis study, and you have been randomly assigned to the post-test survey participant group. This means that you are not being asked to keep a gratitude journal, but your participation in the post-test survey is still very important.
I read the email through twice to verify that I had not misunderstood. I frowned over my computer, scratched my head, and smiled to myself at the irony. What I had hoped to be a motivation to journal had become a barrier.
It wasn’t what I had expected, but I was willing to respect the research process and the power of random selection, so I shelved my journal away.
It has now been a month. I received the email with the post-test survey last night, and as an excellent research participant I submitted my response right away. And then I returned my gratitude journal to its original home on my bedside table.
I am grateful for this experience. It is a good reminder to not be too hasty to sign up for gratitude studies, and that ideally I am mindful so that I can experience gratitude in the present moment. The journal just offers another avenue to develop that practice.