Back in the good old days, it seemed as if a thank-you note was appreciated much more than it is today. In the age of social media, messages of gratitude are being pushed aside—and society may be suffering as a result. Now, researchers are now honing in on whether an attitude of gratitude can change lives, and the results have been stunning.
One study focused upon the writer of the note; while writing a thank-you card, the author was asked to think about the recipient’s response. In many cases, they underestimated the excitement level of the person who received the card in real life. Perhaps this is a part of the problem, people don’t realize how thrilled others are to receive their thank-you notes, so they don’t bother to send them in the first place.
However, it wasn’t just the recipient of the card who benefited from its effects. When people wrote three thank-you notes in three weeks, they consistently noted fewer depression symptoms, as well as higher rates of satisfaction with life and an increased sense of happiness.
Although self-help experts have frequently recommended that people start gratitude journals in order to improve the quality of their lives, there was no hard data to indicate that this practice actually helped those who were striving to improve themselves. Now, there is an overwhelming abundance of data suggesting that this is indeed a very real phenomenon.
Although the topic of gratitude has come to the forefront recently, it’s certainly not a new concept. In fact, there are even Biblical passages and parts of the Quran indicating that those who practice gratitude will benefit from it. One of the most well-known classical pieces of literature is “Robinson Crusoe”. The novel features a man who has become the victim of a shipwreck. Marooned on a desert island, his problems are many. But, luckily for him, he chooses to focus on everything that went right instead of lamenting his desperate circumstances.
Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that these moments of gratitude form the basis for what is considered one of the best novels in the English language. The more research that is completed on the effects of gratitude, the more it demonstrates the overall effect showing gratitude has on the recipient, and the deliverer.