Have you heard about the studies on the positive effects of saying “Thank you?” It’s pretty interesting, and easy enough to practice.
Two of the major researchers in this field are Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. They asked participants to write a few sentences each week. The first group wrote about things they were thankful for, a second group wrote about things they were irritated about, and a third wrote about neutral experiences or events. After 10 weeks, not only were the members of the thankful group reporting more optimism, they also exercised more and had fewer trips to a doctor than those in the second group.
Other studies showed similar positive results associated with expressing gratitude, including couples and managers and their employees.
These studies don’t prove cause and effect, but they certainly give us good reason to promote acts of gratitude. You might want to have your students or counseling group members write letters to people they are grateful for, or express their gratitude to one another. I should add that one study showed that children and teens did not necessarily feel happier after expressing gratitude to someone else, (which the authors hypothesized may be due to their level of emotional maturity,) but it was noted that the recipients of the thank you letters may have had positive emotional effects from being thanked.
And isn’t that worth the effort?