As a counter-example, they wrote about their unfulfilled desires in the second part of the study. They were to write an essay on the paper starting with the words, “I wish that…” And this practice made them feel worse after their timed exercise was finished, as scored by a relative happiness scale that the experimenters could quantify.
In other words, in the second part of the study, they would write down all they wished for that they did not have, like a bigger house, a faster car, more money, more education, a younger sexier wife, a younger sexier husband, and so on. They wrote down all their fantasies. After doing this, they felt miserable, obviously, because they found themselves in lacking…again, the “wanting mind”.
But in the first part of the study, they finished the essays starting with the words, “I am grateful for…” (maybe we can label it “a grateful mind”) and they wrote about how they were grateful for good health, their children, having enough money to live, a job, friends, a roof over their heads, and so forth. At the end of this exercise, they rated themselves on a happiness scale as more happy.
This was because then they experienced gratitude and contentment because they were not in the worst shape they feared. If asked to ruminate and think about what if they were cancer victims, if their children died in a horrible accident, if they lost their jobs, if they suffered from financial calamity. After writing this down, they were found to feel better about themselves and their lives.