Happiness and gratitude are best friends. Writing a thank you note is a prosocial experience that will not only benefit the receiver but will benefit you as well. Gratitude reduces stress, boosts your immune system, and helps reduce negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression.
When you feel sad or depressed, you often lose sight of all the things you can be grateful for. It can be difficult to see beyond the storm, it might even feel impossible at times. We want to invite you to take a step back for a minute. What are the things you can say ‘thank you’ for? Small things you might overlook include the following:
- Your body’s capacity to heal itself.
- Breathing – you don’t think about taking one breath after another. Your autonomic nervous system controls your breathing without you having to think about taking your next breath, it just happens effortlessly.
- Your resilience to overcome all of the obstacles you had in your past and the courage it took to do so.
- The people who stood by you and supported you through seasons in your life.
- Our beautiful planet and all it offers you.
- I can go on with the list, but you get the point…
So why say ‘thank you’? Harvard Health explains that gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes that it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
A research study conducted by the University of Texas indicates that letter writers overestimated how awkward recipients would feel about the gesture and underestimate how surprised and valued recipients would feel. Amit Kumar summarised the findings to her study above by stating that: “If both parties are benefitting from this, I think that’s the type of action we should be pursuing more often in our everyday lives”. Hey Happy supports this notion 100%.
So, go ahead and write a thank you note to someone today. To a friend, your boss, or perhaps a parent or child (whoever you thought of first). Just write from your heart. No fancy-schmancy stuff, no essay, just a simple thank you!
Here is our thank you note to you:
written by Derika de Villiers, Clinical Psychologist.