When was the last time you thanked someone for a a gift, an act of kindness, a good word? Expressing genuine gratitude not only makes the recipient feel appreciated, though. It also has positive benefits for the individual providing the thanks. In fact, according to positive psychologists, the benefits of being grateful go far beyond that momentary warm feeling that both parties receive. Proffering thank you may boost the helper’s self-esteem, causing her to want to provide more help.
Adults can and should teach children to be grateful. Of course, modeling is a perfect way to do this. So, parents can express gratitude to children for gifts and kindnesses, for doing their chores, among many other possibilities. They can engage their children in writing thank you notes for gifts. Parents who express gratitude to spouses and children find that their behavior is reflected in the words and deeds of their children.
A recent Wall Street Journal article previewed a soon-to-be published study in School Psychology Review “Among a group of 122 elementary school kids taught a weeklong curriculum on concepts around giving, gratitude grew. The heightened thankfulness translated into action: 44% of the kids in the curriculum opted to write thank-you notes when given the choice following a PTA presentation. In the control group, 25% wrote notes.”
Another study examined 1,035 high-school students near New York City. The study, published in 2010 in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found that “those who showed high levels of gratitude, for instance thankfulness for the beauty of nature and strong appreciation of other people, reported having stronger GPAs, less depression and envy and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.”
This is a perfect time of year to begin a gratitude attitude. Have you written out your thank you notes yet?