Gratitude: A Simple Path to Trust and Meaning at Work
Keynote Session

Thursday, October 4 | 9:00–10:00 AM

Presented by:
Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD

Session Description: 

Gratitude, or acknowledging the goodness we enjoy through the efforts of others, is tied to better mental and physical health, closer relationships, and greater happiness in life. Humans have evolved with gratitude to best leverage the advantages of being an ultra-social species—that is—thriving largely through coordinated, cooperative activity. Feeling grateful is intrinsically pleasant and motivates us to “pay it forward;” saying “thank you” strengthens trust and benevolence between people; and being sincerely thanked by someone else infuses our day-to-day behaviors with self-transcendent meaning and purpose. Deliberately practicing gratitude-building exercises like regularly writing down whom we feel thankful towards lowers stress and malaise, while increasing daily optimism, social appeal, and even accelerating professional success. Biologically, gratitude boosts the pleasure we feel in being generous and helps us recover more quickly from personal distress. Altogether, science highlights gratitude as an extraordinarily promising, free, and universally accessible tool for improving the human condition—so long as we prioritize and actively incorporate it into our daily lived experiences.

About the Speaker:



Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD
Science Director
UC Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD, is the Science Director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. With her background in neuroscience and social psychology, she oversees the student fellowship program and runs key research initiatives like Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. She also co-teaches the BerkeleyX MOOC GG101x: The Science of Happiness, which has enrolled over 500,000 people from all over the world, alongside the forthcoming Science of Happiness at Work Professional Certificate Series. She serves as an expert voice on the biological underpinnings of social connection, as well as empirically-supported approaches to improving interpersonal dynamics—like practicing mindfulness and boosting empathy, compassion, gratitude, and generosity. Alongside her academic and popular writing, Emiliana recently co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science, a transdisciplinary compendium of articles from world-class researchers. Overall, Emiliana conducts, shares, and applies science that connects well-being to social connection, caregiving, and collaboration for individuals, between people, within organizations and communities, and society-wide.