Sharing gratitude

It was late in the afternoon and I was tired. A knock on my office door.  One of my students came in and started to read to me from a card.  “I want to thank you for all your help in my self-healing project…I didn’t know the improvements were possible for me in a span of 5 weeks…. I thank you so much for encouraging and supporting me…. I have taken back control of myself and continue to make new discoveries about my identity and find my own happiness and fulfillment.,,, Thank you so much.”

I was deeply touched and my eyes started to fill with tears. At that moment, I felt so appreciated. We hugged. My tiredness disappeared and I felt at peace.

This student had completed the daily self-healing practices . When the university students practice a sequence of daily self-healing exercises outlined in the book, Make Health Happen (Peper, Gibney & Holt, 2002), most report significant improvement in their health and well-being as shown in Figure 1 (Peper et al, 2014).

slidesFigure 1. Self-rating by students after completing a personal health improvement project over a period of four weeks (Bier, Peper, & Burke, 2005).

The practice which students report impacts them profoundly and by which they experience a deepening connection and sense of agape (selfless unconditional caring and love) with another person is Sharing Gratitude.

Sharing Gratitude practice was adapted from Professor Martin Seligman’s 2004 TED presentation, The new era of positive psychology.

Take the opportunity during the holiday season to give joy to others. Just do the following:

  • Remember someone who did something for you that impacted your life in a positive direction and whom you never properly thanked.
  • Write a 300 word testimonial describing what the person did and how it positively impacted you.
  • Visit the person and when you meet her/him, read the testimonial to her/him (if the person cannot be visited, use Skype so you can see and connect with each other).

Although it may seem awkward to read the testimonial, after you have done it, you most likely will feel closer and more deeply connected to the person. Moreover, the person to whom you read the testimonial, will feel deeply touched and both of your hearts will open.

For more background information, watch Professor Martin Seligman’s Ted presentation below.


Bier, M., Peper, E., & Burke, A. (2005). Integrated Stress Management with Make Health Happen: Measuring the Impact through a 5-Month Follow-Up. Presented at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Abstract published in: Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 30(4), 400.

Peper, E., Gibney, K.H. & Holt. C. (2002). Make Health Happen: Training Yourself to Create Wellness. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt. ISBN-13: 978-0787293314

Peper, E., Lin, I-M, Harvey, R., Gilbert, M., Gubbala, P., Ratkovich, A., & Fletcher, F. (2014). Transforming chained behaviors: Case studies of overcoming smoking, eczema and hair pulling (trichotillomania). Biofeedback, 42(4), 154-160.

Seligman, M. (2004). The new era of positive psychology.


Sexual consent*

From the age of 14 to graduating from college, 25 percent of women have been victims of rape or attempted rape.  In 90% of the cases, the women knew their assailant and the rape or attempted rape most likely occurred in places where they were together such as studying or at a party (Sampson, 2003). The impact of acquaintance rape is often traumatic.  It leaves the person feeling guilty, confused, devastated and doubting her own judgement as she was assaulted by someone she trusted.

The only way to prevent a rape is to stop the person from raping; however, in many cases the person becomes immobilized from the impending danger and is unable to say “No” (Porges & Peper, 2015; Peper, 2015).  Thus not saying “No” does not mean saying “Yes.”  Consent is the explicit expression of “Yes”.

Sexual consent is superbly modeled and explained by sex educator Laci Green in her YouTube video, Wanna have sex? (Consent 101), and creatively explored in the YouTube video, Tea Consent.

Although the only sure way to prevent rape is to stop the rapist from raping, there are some steps you can take to avoid or help to prevent acquaintance rape. As the above two videos clips point out, an important component is to communicate very clearly your sexual intentions and limits as you have the right to say “no” to any sexual contact.  Remember your partner cannot read your mind.  Be explicit what you mean with words and body language. For additional steps you can take to avoid or help to prevent acquaintance rape, see the  very useful article by Jody K. Althous, the  Director of Outreach and Education at the Women’s Resource Center, What Every College Student Needs to Know about Sexual Assault, Acquaintance Rape, and the Red Zone.