Saying thank you is best gift you can give yourself

People Who Express Gratitude Have Greater Life Satisfaction, Fewer Visits To Doc And Better Sleep

Without meaning to sound ungrateful, it really is the comedown after the festive cheer: the dreaded thank-you notes. Perhaps you agonise over how to make each sound genuine. Then there is the skill of mustering the convincing fauxthanks for unwanted gifts.

If writing thank-you letters is a task you readily dismiss, you aren’t alone. It tur ns out we express our gratitude more rarely than you might assume. But, however you feel about those festive notes, it is time to knuckle down. Because saying thanks could be the best gift you can give, to yourself and others.

The benefits of gratitude have long been championed in religious and philosophical thinking. In recent years, science shows that people who feel most grateful generally get a psychological boost as a result. They also have greater life satisfaction, fewer visits to the doctor and better sleep.

However, the benefits of actually expressing this gratitude have received less attention. Now evidence is stacking up that shows turning our inner gratitude into action can make our lives even better.

Expressing gratitude to a friend also changes your view of that relationship, making it feel stronger. But the benefits go further than just strengthening social bonds, they can have an impact on health, too. A study of over 200 nurses working in two Italian hospitals found that gratitude expressed by patients could protect nurses from burnout; especially in the emergency room, where personal interactions with patients are typically shorter and less rewarding.

All of this makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Gratitude is a very social emotion. It sends a signal to others that we recognise what they have done, that we aren’t just freeloading. It might also imply that we intend to reciprocate.

To better understand how people express gratitude, anthropologist Simeon Floyd, at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands staged a large, cross-cultural study spanning five continents and eight languages, including English, Italian, Polish, Russian and Lao Interactions included both verbal and nonverbal expressions of gratitude such as a smile or a nod.

Floyd’s team left cameras in household and community settings and captured over 1,500 instances of social interactions. They found that in every culture, people overwhelmingly fulfilled requests, but expressions of gratitude, such as saying “thanks” or nodding in appreciation, were rare, occurring just 5.5% of the time.

English and Italian speakers had slightly higher rates of gratitude expression than others — 14.5% and 13.5% of the time, respectively.

One explanation for the absence of thank yous in some languages could be a tacit understanding of our social obligations in informal contexts, such as with close friends and family, which makes explicit acknowledgement less vital. Or it could be that we simply don’t realise the impact on others of saying thanks.

High time to drop the excuses and get those thankyou notes done.