1. Enhanced Well-being
Expressing your thanks can improve your overall sense of well-being. Grateful people are more agreeable, more open, and less neurotic.
Furthermore, gratitude is related inversely to depression, and positively to life satisfaction. This is not to say that “depressed people” should simply be more grateful, as depression is a very complicated disease and struggle for millions of people. Instead, perhaps gratitude practices need to be a part of the therapy and treatment for people who struggle with depression.
2. Deeper Relationships
Gratitude is also a powerful tool for strengthening interpersonal relationships. People who express their gratitude for each other tend to be more willing to forgive others and less narcissistic.
Giving thanks to those who have helped you strengthens your relationships and promotes relationship formation and maintenance, as well as relationship connection and satisfaction.
3. Improved Optimism
One study explored the impact of practicing gratitude. After 10 weeks, their research conveys that people who focused on gratitude showed more optimism in many areas of their lives, including health and exercise.
When people are optimistic about their well-being and health, they may be more likely to act in ways that support a healthy lifestyle.
4. Increased Happiness
A study was conducted asking people to write and deliver a letter to someone for whom they were grateful. After the task, their happiness levels and life satisfaction were dramatically impacted—even weeks later.
In the pursuit of happiness and life satisfaction, gratitude offers a long-lasting effect in a positive-feedback loop of sorts. Thus, the more gratitude we experience and express, the more situations and people we may find to express gratitude towards.
5. An Overall Better Life
Over the last two decades, the evidence supporting the benefits of gratitude has increased a lot. Consider this quote from the Wall Street Journal’s article “Thank you, No, Thank you.”
“…adults who feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.” – Melinda Beck
A study by Seligman, Steen, and Peterson (2005) gave participants one week to write and deliver a letter of thanks, in person, to someone who had been especially kind to them—but who had never been properly thanked. The gratitude visit involves three basic steps:
- First, think of someone who has done something important and wonderful for you, yet who you feel you have not properly thanked.
- Next, reflect on the benefits you received from this person, and write a letter expressing your gratitude for all they have done for you.
- Finally, arrange to deliver the letter personally, and spend some time with this person talking about what you wrote.
The results showed that participants who engaged in the letter-writing exercise reported more happiness for one month after the intervention compared to a control group.
Expressing gratitude not only helps people appreciate what they’ve received in life, but it also helps people feel like they have given something back to those who helped them.