thankful words on board
Essays on Faith, Family and Culture

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude. Thankfulness. When is the last time you told someone how much you valued them? There’s power in gratitude, and now a research project backs it up.

Today, I published a story on Medium called “Never Underestimate the Power of Gratitude.” It’s based on a research study that crossed my desk a few weeks ago.

In the study, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Chicago published a paper in the Association for Psychological Science on the way in which people undervalue gratitude.

The researchers recruited MBA volunteers to write letters of appreciation to mentors and business colleagues. Then, if the recipients granted them permission, they studied their reactions.

The results?

Both the person sending and the person receiving the letter felt happier. Their mood improved. It had lasting effects.

Think about that for a moment. In my article, I write somewhat teasingly about my sister’s penchant for writing lengthy letters and cards. I tease but I love them. I love getting them in the mail. They put a smile on my face every time I see her beautiful handwriting and the postmark.

I know my sister loves me. She’s my big sister and my godmother. She and I are incredibly close. Her children are like my children. We share many of the same interests in life – cats, counted cross stitch, cooking, photography, music, gardening.

But when I receive a letter from her in which she expresses gratitude for my being me, just for being born, for being who I am, it lights up my days like nothing else.

Consider for a minute the world we live in right now. It’s filled with screeching violence and a cacophony of voices shrilly demanding this or that. It’s upsetting, ugly, blackened with pain. Probably not so different from the way the world has always been, but perhaps more noticeable thanks to 24/7 media and social media that lets anyone and everyone express outrage and rage.

What if each of us took one minute to write a gratitude letter to someone?

What if we took a moment to say thank you for being here, thank you for being in my life, thank you for being alive? 

What if we had the courage to love?

picture of sneakered feet around a smiley face
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash