Can giving thanks make us happier, healthier, more satisfied, more motivated, and foster stronger relationships? Study after study seems to prove the answer is a resounding “yes.”

According to a Washington Post article, “The science behind why you shouldn’t stop giving thanks after Thanksgiving,” in a 2003 study, gratitude experts Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami found that individuals who kept a record of what they were grateful for over a period of several weeks “had a more positive outlook on life, exercised more and reported fewer physical problems.”

In another study cited in a Harvard Health article, “Giving thanks can make you happier,” Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, found “a huge increase in happiness scores” among individuals who wrote and personally delivered a letter of gratitude to someone in their lives. The impact on happiness scores of those who wrote the letters was greater than that from any other positive psychology intervention used in the study. Perhaps most notable is that the positive benefits lasted for a month.

It seems that gratitude is an antidote of sorts to all forms of negativity in our lives. It also seems to be the most basic human need to practice gratitude, albeit a sometimes neglected one. Perhaps that is why peoples across all times and cultures have set aside special days dedicated to this necessary but oft-overlooked practice. Perhaps our ancestors knew what was good for us, and that we need some annual reminder to give thanks.

One of the remarkable effects of practicing gratitude is that it takes the focus off of ourselves and our own problems. It makes us more magnanimous, more available to others, and easier to live with. It helps us regain perspective and focus on the abundance of what we have rather than what we lack. When we focus on what we lack, we aren’t really living in reality, and we are robbing ourselves of the richness of our everyday experiences.

Just try it out. Put aside all the things you wish you would have in your life but don’t. Then think of all the wonderful things you do have. There is a weight that is lifted when that happens because the desire for things that do not exist can be a heavy burden to carry.

In the business world, it’s important to show gratitude towards the people we work with. We all rely heavily on the work and successes of our team members and employees. If you think practicing gratitude is a time-consuming chore, think again.

For busy managers, Terryberry has compiled a list of 10 Minute Recognition Actions for Leaders that will help you show thankfulness towards your team in as little as ten minutes a week. In turn, your team will reciprocate and your business will prosper in some pretty amazing ways.

So as we look to give thanks again this Thanksgiving and autumn season, remember it’s about regaining a proper perspective of our own abundance, and that focusing on reality rather than fantasy is the beginning of the road to joy.


Are you looking to build or enhance your organization’s culture of appreciation? Terryberry is your one-stop for all of your organization’s employee recognition needs. Learn how to get started, today.