Who would’ve thought that there is solid scientific proof that a thank you can have positive mental health benefits? Well, as proud ambassadors of Thank You Week, we can confirm that science has proved that the power of gratitude can provide a massive boost to our wellbeing.
A study done by psychology professors Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons on the role that gratitude plays in physical and emotional well-being tests this theory.
They took three groups of volunteers and randomly assigned them to concentrate on one of these three aspects: the obstacles they faced, the things they were grateful for, and everyday life events.
What they concluded from the results was that the group who focused their energy on all the events, people and things they were grateful for were the most happiest, whilst the others suffered lives in unfavourable terms. The gratitude group reportedly had less/fewer negative physical symptoms i.e. colds or headaches, and they were more active. Quite simply, the group who amplified their mental and emotional inclinations of gratitude had a higher quality of life, which their close family, peers and colleagues noticed as well. Emmons was surprised by this result.
“This is not just something that makes people happy, like a positive-thinking/optimism kind of thing. A feeling of gratitude really gets people to do something, to become more pro-social, more compassionate.”
After countless laboratory case studies like Emmon's and McCullough's, there is a consensus that the positive benefits that can be easily gained by a simple change of attitude. People who apply a genuine thank you and allow themselves to feel gratitude regularly have these common traits:
Felt better about their lives
Less anti-social and anxiety issues
Exercised more frequently
Increased healthy sleep pattern
Had fewer illnesses
Higher tolerance and resilience, especially during a negative situation
If a thank you and a sense of gratitude can have such an impact on ourselves and a positive ripple effect on those around us, we can be our own masters and create an all-round healthier outlook on life. Even by dissecting the word “thank you” back to its origin, in English, derives from “think”; which was thought to mean “I will remember what you did for me!”
So if you are out there trying to find ways to improve your life, why not start with gratitude and see where that takes you this National Thank You Week.