What is it about?

The predominant aim of this study was to extend the literature by analyzing the mediating effect of the body-mind-spirit dimensions of wellness between dispositional gratitude and life satisfaction among university students. The body-mind-spirit dimensions were predicted to serve as mediators, as they represent an all-encompassing approach to practicing wellness behaviors. These dimensions aptly cover various aspects of emotional, psychological, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wellness to enable students to make positive life style choices and realize their potential (Mareno and James 2010). The multidimensional aspects of wellness embodied in the mind-body-spirit mediation model provide greater explanatory power to the relationship between dispositional gratitude and life satisfaction as compared to the earlier models covering a single aspect of social wellness (i.e., social support or social connectedness), emotional wellness (i.e., stress or positive and negative effect), or spiritual wellness (i.e., meaning in life). The body-mind-spirit mediation model is therefore superior to the prevailing models acting as mediators between gratitude and life satisfaction/subjective well-being.

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Why is it important?

The present study is based on the Broaden-and-Build mechanism. It is perhaps the first study to have considered the mediating effect of the mind-body-spirit dimensions of wellness between dispositional gratitude and life satisfaction among university students. This study is valuable and meaningful, as it explicates the role of dispositional gratitude in contributing to students’ wellness behaviors related to the body-mind-spirit dimensions and life satisfaction. It is rooted in the Broaden-and-Build theory (Frederickson 2013) and as such explains how the positive emotion of gratitude may develop personal resources in terms of wellness behaviors, which subsequently foster life satisfaction. The present mediation model was also found to work in the alternate direction solely with regard to the mind dimension of wellness. This suggests a partial revision in the hypothesized model. The overall results thus lead us to conclude that the body-mind-spirit dimensions of wellness may mediate the relation between dispositional gratitude and life satisfaction, whereas, the mind dimension may mediate the relation between life satisfaction and dispositional gratitude. Results of the study may assist educational administrators, faculty members, positive psychology interventionists, and on-campus wellness professionals in developing and implementing result-oriented interventions to promote life satisfaction among university students. All in all, this study advances theory, research, and practice related to positive psychology.

Perspectives

The overall study sample consisted of university students predominantly belonging to the middle upper socio-economic group of Pakistan. However, the body-mind-spirit mediation model may be relevant for the less privileged Pakistani students studying at public universities or private universities (on scholarship or financial aid). Having limited options and facilities in life than their privileged counterparts, most have a relentless desire to improve their circumstances by becoming financially self-reliant to prosper in life. Gratitude is at the heart of the Islamic teachings and is one of the core aspects of the religion. In Islam, gratitude is essentially God-centered in thought, feelings, and experiences (Gocen 2016). It is therefore the obligation of every Muslim to express gratitude to God in all situations, as He is the provider of everything—consciousness, family, health, finances, education, and wisdom—and as such all perceived blessings are associated with Him (Al-Seheel and Noor 2016). Moreover, Islam teaches people to remain thankful to God—even in times of hardship to show acceptance to His will—to enable them to become closer to Him. Essentially, this personal relationship with God helps people in attaining solace, inner peace, and strength of spirit, which act as a buffer against life’s trials and tribulations (Mobin-Uddin 2002). As God-centered gratitude is deeply embedded in the fabric of Pakistani society, therefore, expressing gratitude to people for their kindness or good gestures is much appreciated by the general public. It is not only considered polite and respectful, but also demonstrates warmth and appreciation on the part of the beneficiary. As such, implementing various genres of interventions—not necessarily God-centered—in Pakistan for augmenting gratitude may be very beneficial, as expressing gratitude based on the benefits derived from the good deeds of others and for the good things in one’s life are eventually associated with God’s blessings (Gocen 2015). Moreover, many Pakistanis often respond to their benefactors by saying Jazak Allah (May God reward you [with] goodness). As saying thank you is never enough, therefore, all types of gratitude interventions may be well received by the general public and at the same time profit Pakistani students in terms of cultivating happiness and experiencing life satisfaction.

Zane Asher Green
Preston University Pakistan

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This page is a summary of: The Body–Mind–Spirit Dimensions of Wellness Mediate Dispositional Gratitude and Life Satisfaction, Journal of Happiness Studies, December 2019, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s10902-019-00215-6.
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