The Science Behind a Thank You
Starting as young as 12-18 months old, children are indoctrinated with manners and etiquette. Parents and grandparents teach children the importance of using words like “please” and “thank you” to show consideration toward others. For parents, when they witness the unprompted execution of children being courteous and polite, it encourages them that their attempts to raise good humans are not entirely futile. As we grow into adulthood, we begin to realize social attentiveness to words can make our world a nicer place!
What Thank You Means
The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word thank-you as a polite expression of one’s gratitude. There is a plethora of studies, in the last two decades, that have found that gratitude has measurable benefits for physical and psychological wellness. This article from WellRight describes five particular benefits of gratitude. Research suggests that specific approaches to incorporating the practice of gratitude in your life will change neural pathways of the brain for the good!
Upon awakening in the morning and prior to reaching for that mobile device to check for emails, social media, overnight texts, and news headlines, try focusing on three things you feel grateful for. Do not overthink it. In fact, the first thoughts toward the positive are the best, for example, “I’m thankful for that first sip of coffee, my warm bed and my fuzzy slippers.” If you are a deeper, profound and introspective thinker, that is okay too. The key is having your thoughts focused on the goodness in your life, no matter how big or small. This practice does not negate or imply ignoring the hard and challenging issues or emotions we experience. It is a tool scientifically proven to help boost mood, re-wire your nervous system, improve interpersonal relationships, and strengthen one’s resiliency.
Not convinced something so simple has this much power for change on the brain and body? Check out the mounting research for yourself. The Greater Good Science Center, based at the University of California, Berkeley is one of the leaders in research and neuroscience on emotional and social well-being. They provide many practical resources as well.
Want to witness the impact of gratitude in practice? Watch this 7-minute video, An Experiment in Gratitude/The Science of Happiness. Be prepared to grab a tissue — it is an inspiring look at the appreciation of existing relationships in the lives of five random individuals.
The inspiration for me to write on this topic was a book I was gifted several months ago entitled, Thanks-A-Thousand/A Gratitude Journal written by TED Talks speaker, A.J. Jacobs. This book chronicles the author’s mission to thank every single person (however small) involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. His gratitude quest took him across the globe to meet the most interesting, unexpected, and surprising people. You can find a copy of this book on Amazon.
The above suggestion is one of many ways to cultivate gratitude in your life. Want to explore this more and connect with the spirit of gratitude that fits with your personality and lifestyle? We encourage you to reach out to your therapist and have a more in-depth discussion on the topic. Have not connected with a therapist? Lake Norman Family Therapy would be grateful to serve you. Reach out using our Contact Us form today.