Say Thank You

In the UK we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but to me it seems a great idea – a day set aside to say thank you.  That seems more meaningful than having an extra day holiday to celebrate a Royal Wedding, one participant of whom may by accident of birth be set to “rule” us!

say thank you

universal Thank You note

Some people keep a gratitude journal or diary, which at first seems a bit woo~woo or bound with religious practices. However, research has shown that such an activity does help. A study carried out at the University of California, Davis found that:-

In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

Research has also found “gratitude” benefits in goal attainment, grade scores of students, lower blood pressure and improve immune function. In fact Professor Emmons, co-author of that research and other experiments on gratitude says

“The evidence that cultivating gratefulness is good for people is overwhelming…gratitude enhances nearly all spheres of human experience”

Putting aside gratitude journals – which I assume are never shared – what about sharing gratitude with others?  When I was a child we were virtually forced to write thank you letters to relatives for our various Christmas and birthday gifts.  Making the effort to say thank you via letters or cards isn’t something many still practice.

I’m not sure how much its transferred to new mediums, such as email or Facebook. Communication may be easier, but to say thank you may not be so easy? Emmons suggests that we may be reluctant to give thanks or appreciation as it makes us feel obligated to others, or makes us feel less self sufficient. That sounds a bit weak.

I do agree with his other suggestion that, unfortunately, we tend not to notice positive things in our life – sliding out of our mind as if Teflon. Whereas anything negative clings to our memory like Velcro.

Learn to Say Thank You

What’s important to distinguish is there are the two strands to gratitude, inward and outward.  It appears that we are now starting to see the benefits of inward gratitude – or grateful thinking –  particularly as a way to be happier.

Last week the BBC listed “Writing down good things that happen to you and a letter expressing your gratitude” as part of a feature on their Breakfast Show.  On the site they have a Happiness Challenge Workbook that’s worth downloading.

But whilst I can’t quote any evidence, part of me feels we should also be refocussing on the outward strand. Getting into the habit of sharing thanks, genuine gratitude, with others.  Whether saying “thank you”, sending a card, letter or email – or even a small gift – this does seem a simple habit to get into.

I have mentioned the Emmons & McCullough study in a previous post, Can Gratitude Make a Difference? Yes it can! I need to start using more confident language in my post title.  And we all need to think about how we can incorporate gratitude in our lives. Leave your comments below, and I will say thank you.

photo by woodleywonderworks on Flickr

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fitness girl January 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I’m thankful to know other things because it gives me a great self confidence. and I’m happy of what I have and who I am. because of this my self confidence will follow ‘coz i know myself.and i know the real me.

Dave Stapleton February 3, 2011 at 2:39 am

I agree with the inward and outward gratitude angles. Reading about the outward angle reminded me of growing up with a bullying big brother who would be very painful 90% of the time and do an occassional act of kindness. It was so difficult to to express gratitude in the midst of so much resentment and hence I now have a negetative association with responding to people’s kindness.
My experience is not meant to excuse ‘weakness’ but increase understanding.
Thanks for the Blog and opportunity to write.

David February 4, 2011 at 8:13 am

Thanks for your comment. So much of what we do is governed by habits we get into, good and bad. Knowing what we do is half the battle to making changes, but it can still take time and effort to change a habit that’s been around since childhood.

Debbie @ Happy Maker February 17, 2011 at 12:53 am

Thank you for a great post David! This put a smile on my face, since everytime I write a comment on someones blog I always try to thank them for the information or if someone writes a comment on my blog I always Thank them. Will maybe sometimes I forget, but now that you have reminded me I shall remember to say thank you,
Thank You, LOL

David February 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for your comment – I seem to recall you’re pretty good at saying thank you!

Debbie @ Happy Maker February 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Well Thank You David. LOL

Michelle Vandepas February 17, 2011 at 1:45 am

I always forget to write it down. I’m always grateful,and say so,but I forget to write it. so here goes:
I’m grateful for the agent who wants my book proposal
I’m grateful for all the hurts in my life
I’m grateful for my safe place to live (no war)
I’m grateful for the people who help me
I’m grateful for those who teach me (usually against my will)
I’m grateful for my health
I’m grateful grateful grateful.

David February 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

People tend to overlook the many things we have to be grateful for – as you say living in a country that’s safe, without war, isn’t something we should just take for granted. Thanks for commenting

Phoenix February 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

A Great post! Being grateful for something that most consider negative (the hurts) is quite powerful. You’re seeing lessons in ALL things. I’m still working toward that.

Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny February 17, 2011 at 4:57 am

Hi David,
I just downloaded the Happiness workbook and looked through it. I think I’ll print it out and actually do the exercises. How can I lose? Just looking at the questions had me thinking about who I need to thank and nice things that I could do on a regular basis. World peace, one person at a time.

David February 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm

“World peace, one person at a time” ~ lovely quote, I’ll remediable that one! Thanks for the comment.

Corinne Edwards February 17, 2011 at 8:20 am

I am grateful for you, David.

I am grateful I found blogging, accidently, four years ago. Have made some lovely friends like you.

You always comment on my posts and make me feel like somewhere you are really paying attention to what I am saying.

You have been a good friend.

David February 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Thanks for your comment and kind words. I pay attention to what you blog as you have some interesting and valuable things to say, its always a joy to look for your new posts. Like you, I have found the past 4 years (when I also started) partly exciting for the friendships I have built through blogging.

Beat Schindler February 17, 2011 at 10:27 am

Great stuff, even though I happily admit, you’rr preaching to the converted. The gratefulness habit – all on its own – has the power to turn a person’s life around. I should know :-] And as you point out, it’s super-easy to do. I was initially inspired by two quotes: “The secret to wealth is gratitude.” (Sir John Templeton) and “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” (Cicero) Oh, lest I forget, thanks for your post!

David February 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Those are two great quotes, neither of which I’ve heard before. So thanks for them and your comment and compliment. The gratefulness habit is certainly worth getting into.

Bruce February 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Great post. I like it. Being thankful is so easy and so easily forgotten. I don’t need to preach here, you did such an eloquent job above. Thanks for your quotes e-book. As soon as I finish this, I am going to confirm and download and read it.

David February 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I think it an appropriate time to say thanks for your past encouragement as you have kept me blogging (albeit somewhat erratically at present!). I do hope you enjoy the quotes book (interestingly over 1200 downloads and a handful of thank you’s!) Thanks for the comment

Andrew @ Build Blog February 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm


I think in this fast mad world…we can take people for granted.

And WE all need reminding to simply say ‘thank you’.

I know I could do it more…so thanks for the reminder!


David February 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for the comment – plus your help and advice at different times. i think we all could do with saying thanks more often.

Joel February 18, 2011 at 12:29 am

There’s nothing that makes me smile more than some of the wonderful thank you emails I get, I even get cards and gifts sometimes for just doing my job. I think the fact someone puts the effort in to say thank you is a great quality in a person. I should do it more to others too, I am very grateful to so many people every day, it helps make life better. Thanks for the reminder David!

Lisa February 18, 2011 at 1:17 am

Thank you — for the awesome post! :o)

Raymond Chua February 20, 2011 at 3:41 am

Gratitude indeed can make a huge difference and increase the power of our attraction.

It promotes positive energy and vibration that attracts more good things into our lives.

Amy LeForge February 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I can’t help but be struck by a new thought: gratitude has the word “attitude” in it. Nearly. Anyhow, wow. I never noticed that before.

One of my boys has a more melancholy attitude toward life, and we’ve even teasingly called him Eeyore because of it. We’ve been pushing the thankfulness thing around here for a while now, and I do see improvement from all of them, even my buddy Eeyore!

David March 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I hadn’t noticed that before either. But having a “gratitude attitude” makes sense, it should be our default setting, not forced. Thanks for the comment.

Tyrone March 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Hey David,

This one’s great. That’s also the reason why I put up monthly goals report because that way I can recall what are the things I’m grateful for regularly which brings me a lot of positive spirit regularly. 🙂


Charu February 1, 2012 at 6:36 am

In traditional wisdom it is said that one is to be both responsible as well as grateful. Not surprisingly, I find that many persons who are responsible (being very confident & competent) but not grateful, lead hard lives.

I think when we are grateful we know & accept the positive contributions, instead of focussing solely on the fears.

Is grateful an emotion?

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