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Gratitude Challenge Invites Letters and Stories of Gratitude

Dr. Alex Bolinger speaks with KISU's Jamon Anderson about the upcoming Gratitude Challenge at Idaho State University.

The ongoing pandemic has been challenging for communities all over the world. However, here at Idaho State University, one Professor is spearheading an effort to rebuild a sense of community and promote student wellbeing. Dr. Alex Bolinger is a Professor of Management in the College of Management and he is leading 'The Gratitude Challenge'.

"A big, hairy, and audacious goal"

That is how Dr. Bolinger describes the ambitions of The Gratitude Challenge, which hopes to facilitate 400 letters of gratitude in September. The challenge invites students and members of the community to write letters of gratitude to those that have directly or indirectly made a positive difference in their life. Ever the scientist, Dr. Bolinger cites academic literature (Grant & Shandell, 2021; Kumar & Epley, 2018) to suggest that letters of gratitude are one of the most effective ways of increasing perceptions of well-being, social support, and motivation.

Interestingly, Dr. Bolinger explains that expressing thanks is not just beneficial to the recipient, but also to the sender. After the tough year that we have all gone through, this challenge may be more important than ever, and offer therapeutic benefits for all those involved. With the challenge aligning with the upcoming anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks, and the continuing brave work of medical staff during the pandemic, Dr. Bollinger hopes that First Responders, Nurses, and Doctors, will all be among those honored in the many letters of gratitude.

To immortalize the spirit of the challenge, a book will be created using many of the letters and stories of gratitude. Dr. Bolinger encourages anybody with a story of gratitude to submit a copy to Submission guidelines are flexible, asking for stories to be between 100 and 2000 words, and are open to all types of gratitude.

The climax of The Gratitude Challenge will be a homecoming rendezvous starting at 6pm (after the Football Game), in the Pond Student Union Ball Room on Homecoming Day. The event will be an opportunity to mix, mingle, and celebrate everything the challenge has achieved.

Dr. Bolinger thanks the ISU community, the Alumni Association, and the athletics department for supporting the challenge. A virtual Town Hall event on Friday 27th August will provide an opportunity to learn more about this program. Link to Town Hall

More about Dr. Alex Bolinger:

Dr. Bolinger’s research interests focus on groups and teams, negotiation, entrepreneurship, and employment in service professions. He is an advocate of active learning and student engagement with the community. He also created the “Make-a-Wish Challenge” at ISU and initiated an honors class where students work in teams to write a local history book that is published by Arcadia Publishing. Bolinger was voted by the Associated Students of ISU as the school’s “Professor of the Year” for the 2015-2016 school year.

Jamon Anderson has served with KISU FM since 2003 in many capacities including show-host, newscaster, announcer, board operator, production specialist, engineering assistant, automation and programs manager. He is currently KISU's General Manager.