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Snoopy Cartoon on Gratitude, Dr. Barb Psychologist

Psychology of Gratitude

“Thank you”

One of the earliest phrases children learn to say is “thank you”. That is when we are introduced to good manners. It is a way we learn to express our appreciation and convey our gratitude. It is a demonstration of respect to someone who has helped, complimented, or given us something. It indicates we do not take them for granted and validate that they matter. We simply need to be sincere. We are happy and they are happy—a shared experience. That is why it is so important to say thank you.

Expressions of Gratitude

We can communicate gratitude in many ways. We can convey gratitude through smiles and hugs. We can applaud a job or performance well done. We can write a thank you note or draw a picture. We can extend a kind gesture–help with a work project, bake a cake, extend an invitation. Certainly, we can speak the words “thank you” in a variety of manners:

Thank you for thinking of me.
I appreciate what you did.
Your gift is very kind.
You’re amazing.
We couldn’t have done this without you.
You have been so helpful.
You made such a difference.
I like your ideas.
I’ll always remember this.
I love you.

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude by Amy Morin, LCSW published in Psychology Today:

1. Do you know that gratitude opens the door to more relationships? In addition to respectful behavior, it can generate a new friendship, make a stranger smile, generate a new opportunity.

2. Do you know gratitude improves physical health? According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, people who express gratitude report overall better health than others and fewer aches and pains. They tend to contribute to their longevity by regular medical check-ups and exercise.

3. Do you know that gratitude improves psychological health? Gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression as well as other toxic emotions like envy, regret, and frustration.

4. Do you know that gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression? People who feel grateful exhibit more prosocial behaviors thus convey more empathy and less longing to seek revenge.

5. Do you know that people who are grateful sleep better? Focusing on a few appreciations before bed may help promote a sounder more satisfying sleep. Among the many benefits of sound sleep, it helps reduce stress and improve your mood. Thus you are in a better state to feel grateful.

6. Do you know that gratitude improves self-esteem? It puts people in a frame of mind to appreciate other people’s accomplishments without making social comparisons and feeling envious or resentful.

7. Do you know that gratitude increases mental strength? It fosters resilience so people can handle stress more readily. They tend to feel more tolerant and capable of creative problem-solving.

Attitude of Gratitude

Even when we face adversity, we can model the glass half-full versus half-empty. When we develop an attitude of gratitude, we can feel more satisfied with our life and gain so many benefits. We can attract and encourage others to be optimistic and express appreciation. Gratitude begets gratitude. So let’s all be thankful and pay it forward!