The Proven Power of Gratitude


Expressing gratitude helps us enjoy the richness of life available now instead of waiting to feel satisfied later when our outstanding needs and wants are met. Receiving gratitude lets us know we are appreciated.

Most of us have experienced the benefits of expressing and receiving gratitude and need no statistical proof of its effectiveness.

However, scientists – being scientists – have been busy quantifying the blessings of gratitude. Here is a sample of their findings.

Benefits of Gratitude

Although studies done on the benefits of gratitude do not prove cause and effect, it is safe to say that there is an association between expressions of gratitude, a person’s sense of well-being and our level of motivation.

  1. Studies have shown that managers who remember to thank the employees who work for them find those workers are more motivated and productive.
  2. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania divided university fundraisers into two groups. Each group made phone calls soliciting alumni donations, but only one of the groups received a pep talk prior to making their phone calls. During the pep talk, the director of annual giving expressed gratitude for the fundraisers' work. Can you guess which group made the greater fundraising effort? The participants shown gratitude made 50 percent more calls than the other group.
  3. Couples' studies revealed that when individuals make an effort to express gratitude for their partner they have more positive feelings for each other and are more comfortable sharing relationship concerns.
  4. In a study through the University of Miami, one group of participants wrote a few sentences each week expressing gratitude for things that happened that week. A second group wrote about occurrences that had irritated or displeased them. The third group was directed to write down events that had affected them (no mention was made of positive or negative feelings). After 10 weeks, the gratitude group was more optimistic and felt more positive about their lives than the other groups. They also were exercising more and had fewer trips to a doctor than those who kept track of aggravations.
  5. Another University of Pennsylvania researcher, Dr. Martin Seligman, tested the effect of several positive psychology methods on 411 people. The positive psychology intervention with the greatest impact was the assignment to write a letter of gratitude to an individual who had never been rightly thanked for his or her kindness. This task greatly raised participants happiness scores, and the benefit was felt for up to a month.

"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices." ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray, Love

Source: Harvard Health Publications


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