by Mira Reverente
The simple act of thanking someone or being grateful for something releases “reward” chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, making us happy and calm. Stress hormones such as cortisol are also reduced by thanking someone.
In a study conducted at Kent State University, students were divided into two groups. One group had to write thank you letters for meaningful events or gestures, not just gifts. One group did not write letters at all.
The letter-writing group reported a higher level of life satisfaction. Some that were experiencing mild depression before the letter-writing exercise found that their symptoms were no longer as pronounced.
“By thanking someone, we draw our conscious mind’s attention to the fact that something good has happened, provoking a neurotransmitter release,” said Steve Toepfer, the professor who conducted the study and published the results in the Journal of Happiness Study.
“Gratitude isn’t just a strategy – it’s a resource that we shouldn’t ignore,” he added. “We all have it, and we need to use it to improve our quality of life.”
Here is my gratitude game plan not just for this week but for the years to come:
Reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t connected with in awhile. Bring up good memories with that person and thank that person for being in your life.
If you prefer writing like me, write thank you cards or letters. Send one to your child’s teacher, your reliable babysitter, your favorite barista, your mechanic, anyone in your life who has done you a favor or made your life easier lately.
Every day upon waking up, think of one thing you are grateful for. Use that image to power through your day.
Start a gratitude list, journal or file. Update it throughout the year.
Volunteer. Studies show that being more giving of one’s time, talents or resources can vastly improve one’s mental and physical health.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Remember to always be grateful.
Mira Reverente is associate editor of CVH and a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in many local publications. Her first book on money came out last fall. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more money savviness tips or check out her new blog.