The Power of “Thank You!”
Everyone wants to work somewhere where they feel appreciated. Research tells us about the impact that gratitude can have for positive mental (and physical) health – not only on the person who is thanked, but also on the person showing their gratitude.
What are you grateful for today?
Five years ago, I enrolled in the Thnx4 experiment into gratitude being run at the University of California, Berkeley through the university’s Greater Good Science Center. Encouraged to keep a daily ‘gratitude diary,’ I found myself noticing new things to be grateful for each day, in my working as well as personal life:
- The colleague who covered for me in a crisis
- The woman who made me feel genuinely welcomed at a seminar,
- Functioning IT
- The fellow board member who offered to take on a task so I could have a day off
- Clients paying on time
- An administrator’s flexibility to accommodate my difficult schedule, and on and on.…
Positive Effects of Gratitude
Looking out for this good news, I felt the positive effects on myself as well as more widely in our organisation. As the Berkeley project found after studying over 1000 people (aged 8 to 80), people who regularly practise gratitude consistently report:
- feeling more alive and awake,
- experiencing more joy, pleasure and optimism
- feeling less lonely
Physical benefits include stronger immune systems, being less bothered by pain, lower blood pressure, and longer and more refreshing sleep.
Gratitude & Mental Health
Critics of into gratitude research findings has suggested that perhaps these positive elements are only correlated, not caused, by gratitude. Put simply, they question whether it’s only the people who are happy and healthy anyway who practise gratitude.
I was therefore particularly inspired to read recently some research from 2018 into the experience of people with clinically low levels of mental health who were encouraged to write one letter of gratitude a week for three weeks. The research found that this practice of gratitude had a significant positive impact on mental health (compared to the control group). More surprisingly, the effect was noticeable even when the letters of appreciation that had been written were not sent.
So, do something wonderful for your mental health and that of your colleagues and your organisation: find something to be grateful for in your workplace. Then write to share your appreciation with a co-worker. Go on…
Thank you for reading!
Elizabeth Gowing // Author. Journalist. Business Owner. MasterClass Trainer.
Elizabeth gives talks online and in person in the UK on ‘Getting a Gratitude Attitude’ - read more here. She provides training at the Lincoln Center in business writing – including on how to write emails of appreciation – sign up by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or 068.436.4431
Other courses by Elizabeth Gowing: