This project was generated out of a desire to understand and explore a novel twist on a well-traversed route to happiness. I set out looking for a new perspective on fulfillment and found sustainable, everyday joy through gratitude. In doing so, I created a space where a group of people could practice and share gratitude as a community. Gratitude is familiar to most as a feeling, but putting intention behind gratitude turns it into an action, and even a virtue. In fact, Roman philosopher Cicero says, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." I created a Facebook community called Marvel at The Ordinary (MATO) applying principles rooted in the Theory of Change to express this greatest virtue. I found both success and earnest support from others in this novel approach to current gratitude practices. Defined by Dr. Robert Emmons, an expert in the science of gratitude, practicing gratitude is a two-step process: "(1.) affirming goodness in one's life, and (2.) recognizing that the sources of this goodness lie at least partially outside of the self." There is substantial research touting the worth of gratitude journaling, in fact, few things have been more repeatedly and empirically vetted than the connection between gratitude and overall happiness and well-being. Yet there is one facet ubiquitously overlooked in current gratitude research: what happens when gratitude journaling is shared with others? With anecdotal evidence, short-form interview analysis, thematic analysis of journaling lexicon, and a case study on the growth and engagement of Marvel at The Ordinary as a social movement, there is reason to believe that a social media-based community centered around gratitude may support and even enhance the practice of gratitude, which is typically practiced in isolation. It was also found that communities of this sort are highly sought after, based on the engagement within and growth of the Facebook group from 50 to 600+ members in a period of 2 months. MATO set out with the aspirations of creating a community which encourages others to gratitude journal, raising awareness about gratitude journaling, and building a community which fosters empathy, optimism, and awareness in an everyday sense. In each of these goals, overwhelming success was found.
- Marvel at The Ordinary: A Community-Centered Gratitude Movement