We often think that expressing gratitude is something we do for another person. However, new research shows that we actually get more out of showing gratitude than we might think.
A new study published by the journal of Psychological Science reveals that, although people typically believe that expressing gratitude—such as in the form of “Thank you” notes—will be perceived as “awkward,” both the giver and the receiver of the “Thank you” notes reported positive feelings after the exchange.
As this study tells us, people often feel awkward expressing their gratitude to others, but the Theology of the Body reminds us that God created us to be a gift to each other. When you receive a gift, it is only appropriate to say, “Thank you.” Christians are called to love one another, and one of the most important ways we can love each other is by reminding each person in our lives how important, how treasured, and how special they are to us. Sometimes we can feel foolish telling other people how much they mean to us, but today, perhaps sharing our gratitude for one another can be one small way we can fulfill St. Paul’s admonision in 1 Cor 4:10 to be “fools for Christ.” Take a moment to find some small way to let the people God has brought into your life know how grateful you are to them. Tell your spouse, your kids, your family, friends, and co-workers how much you appreciate them, and don’t forget to say “thank you” even for the little things that others do for you. It’s a simple way you can be God’s blessing to others and remind others of what a blessing they are to you.
Here are three More2Life Hacks for increasing the gift of gratitude in your life:
Recognize the Gift–Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you shouldn’t say “thank you” to someone who is “just doing their job” or “just doing what they are supposed to do.” There are lots of people who don’t do their jobs and fail to do what they should. The fact is, it takes effort to try to do what’s right and fulfill our responsibilities to one another, and it’s an effort that deserves to be recognized. In a world that sees people as objects and takes everyone for granted, we Christians have a special duty to remind each other, and the world, how important each and every person is in the eyes of God and how precious a gift it is when someone does something–anything–to make our lives a little easier or more pleasant. Be that person who recognizes the gifts others give you today. Acknowledge everything someone does for you today with a simple “thank you” and a smile.
Celebrate the People In Your Life–Is there someone you especially appreciate? Someone who makes a difference in your life just by being who they are? When was the last time you told them how important they are to you? Today, take a minute to actually hand write a short note to tell them how much they mean to you. You might thank them for something specific they did, or for how they make you feel, or just thank them for being in your life. Let them know what a gift they are to you and how you wouldn’t be the same without them. Then drop it in the mail or leave it someplace where they can be surprised to find it later on. It doesn’t take much effort, but you’d be surprised by how much of a difference this little effort can make.
Get Happy–Research shows that people who make an effort to practice simple gratitude habits can increase their happiness set point by up to 30%. Your happiness set point is the natural level of happiness you experience in your everyday life and it is remarkably stable. Whether people are surprised by good things or frustrated by unpleasant events, they tend to return to their happiness set point fairly shortly thereafter. But simple acts of gratitude like keeping a gratitude journal, saying “thank you” to others, and finding simple ways to acknowledge how much the people in your life mean to you have been shown to significantly increase a person’s happiness set point, increasing their overall sense of wellbeing and joy. It turns out, the best way to be a happier person is to remind yourself to express thanks for all the little blessings you’ve been given and all the people who bless your life everyday.
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