by Maeve O’Leary
Remember what your mother said about using your manners? Maybe to your chagrin, but to her satisfaction, she was right. As it turns out, saying “thank you” can provide the most selfish of benefits: making us happier. Even with Thanksgiving a whole month away, studies show there is never a wrong time to express gratitude towards others, whether that be through a simple “thanks” to a stranger, or through calling your mom to thank her for teaching you to use your manners, or through giving a dramatic recitation to your best friend, listing the reasons you love her, giving thanks helps people fell more positive emotions.
Two psychologists at the University of California, Davis, experimented with the theory to research gratitude. In one study they asked all participants to write a few sentences a week, expressing things they were grateful for. A second group wrote about daily irritations affecting them that week. After 10 weeks, the first group felt more optimistic about their lives, exercising more and requiring fewer physician visits, while the second group grew even more aggravated.
In another experiment done by the online video group, Soul Pancake (link below), volunteers were called in to speak about someone for whom they were grateful. After they expressed themselves, they were told to call that person. Results were positive—most subjects ended up moved in some way by the experience, either through laughter or crying or simply touching the one they had called on the telephone. If you’re in the mood to tear up a little in the union, watch the video yourself.
Or if you need an easy pick-me-up, just say the two words: “thank you.”
*Thanks to Emmy Danforth for her video recommendation!