College students have experienced many disruptions to their daily lives due to COVID19, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and isolation. While there is evidence to suggest that practising gratitude can help increase wellbeing, the evidence for the effectiveness of gratitude in young people is limited. Furthermore, little is known about
what young people feel grateful for. This study explores the content of the ‘Three Good Things’ reported by students during the strictest COVID-19 lockdown in Ireland.
A total of 109 college students completed each of the 7-day online Three Good Things intervention where they answered: “What are 3 things that went well for you today?”,
“How did these 3 things make you feel at the time and now that you remember them?” and “What was your role in bringing them about?”. A thematic analysis was employed to analyse the responses. Over 2,200 statements were analysed resulting in the identification of three main themes: (1) cultivating positive social interactions; (2)
having meaningful time for yourself and (3) a hopeful future.
The findings reveal that during COVID-19, students expressed gratitude for the social interactions in their lives, the time they had to focus on themselves to engage in self-care, and hope for a more normal life post-pandemic.
This study adds to the gratitude research by addressing a gap in the qualitative literature. It also identifies what is important for students during challenging times, and this includes social connection, self-care, and hope.