How Expressing Gratitude Boosts Happiness
Happy Thanksgiving, bosses! Today’s a day I like to focus on giving thanks. And new research from the Booth School of Business shows why this is one habit we should embrace more often.
Researchers found that actually expressing our gratitude not only boosts our own well-being, but also makes a big impact on those who you’re thankful for. But more often than not in everyday life, we might feel it, but we don’t always express it. Telling some one how much you appreciate them might seem cliché or weird and over the top. But this research found that we underestimate how much our thanks is appreciated.
We overestimate the awkward
According to the study, “participants in three experiments wrote gratitude letters and then predicted how surprised, happy, and awkward recipients would feel. Recipients then reported how receiving an expression of gratitude actually made them feel. Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel.”
Giving thanks is less awkward than we think it’s going to be. So this thanksgiving, I want you to actually say the words. Tell the people you’re with why you appreciate them today. And pick up the phone or send the text to the people you’re not with but who are on your mind.
Make your day – and theirs, too.
Brad the Boo used to mention periodically someone from his past who’d made a big impact on him. It’s actually his ex-girlfriend’s father. He recommended to Brad that he read a book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which is this coming of age novel I now recommend especially for young men navigating career change or big life changes. He got this recommendation at a key time in his life when he benefitted greatly from it.
Now, a more anxious side of me used to feel a pang of insecurity whenever I’d hear Brad talk about this guy in his life, as though thinking fondly about his ex-girlfriend’s dad was akin to him wanting to get back with her just for that relationship. Or I’d take it as some personal affront about my dad. But when I’d listen to Brad mention him from a place of security, confidence, and self-worth, I told him: you’ve got to tell this guy about the impact he had on you. You can’t go through life waxing poetic about people who made an impact on you without ever letting them know.
So finally, he did. Years later. He emailed the guy this summer. And yes, he did mention that we were about to be married and inquired about his ex, which I thought was very sweet of him. He got a wonderfully warm response back and I know it made his day to hear from him. And it probably his ex’s dad’s day, too.
Don’t keep your gratitude a secret
It’s so important we don’t go through life keeping what we’re most grateful for a secret. Whispering our joy doesn’t keep us any safer from losing it.
So this Thanksgiving, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, I’m grateful for you. Really. This work is not easy. It’s been a long year. Making the leap into this independent production was terrifying. But you listeners were there to keep it real with me. And truly, to create with me. Your voicemails?! They make this show what it is: a conversation, not a proclamation. Your boss moves give me life, and your willingness to share this show with your friends is the ultimate compliment. But most of all, when I read the reviews that have been coming in lately on iTunes, I appreciate the fact that you seem to hear how much of my heart goes into this work. I think you get what a personal endeavor this has been – and really, when you care this much, and put your heart into your work, it feels vulnerable. So I appreciate all the ways in which you’ve responded to this show this year with your whole hearts, too.
So thank you. Happy Thanksgiving. And keep bossin!