Expressing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

To kick off the holiday season, Thanksgiving brings just the right amount of high spirits and great expectations during this festive time of year: it’s not just meant for a family gathering, a turkey dinner, or a fable of interracial harmony, but also for expressing gratitude in what life brings to us. In fact, recent psychological research has shown that giving thanks can actually make us more content. Below are three benefits of expressing gratitude in terms of mental health: 

  1. 1. Prosocial Behavior

    Grateful people tend to be more helpful and generous because they look at life through a more positive lense than those who are solemn. Also, experimentally suiting others’ feelings of gratitude makes us increasingly considerate and gracious, in addition to simple activities like writing a gratitude letter or practicing gratitude journaling. When good things are given and taken regularly, both givers and takers experience positive feelings. 

  2. 2. Build and Maintain Social Relationships

    The Lalathree Girls Sitting By A Fountain

    Giving thanks to other people creates the impression that we understand, appreciate, and are willing to support them. Based on a report by UC Berekely, by “attuning people to the thoughtfulness of others,” gratitude helps us identify whom we want to form and maintain relationships with. A study of couples found that individuals regularly expressing gratitude for their partner felt not only more positive toward the other, but also more comfortable discussing concerns about their relationship. In Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Robert Emmons gives an example of managers who remember to thank their employees as this may lead to employees willing to work harder.

  3. 3. Release from Toxic Emotions

    When doing activities to express gratitude such as those mentioned previously, or simply vocalizing it, we use a greater percentage of positive words, which subsequently leads to a decrease in unfavorable words. In his book, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, suggested that people who use fewer negative words tend to report higher happiness scores.

So, if there was ever a good time to give thanks, it's now!