Here at MeritShare, we strive to help companies motivate their employees by offering a way to give recognition where it is earned. It has been proven that employees who receive thanks and feel that their work is being appreciated will perform better than those who do not receive recognition. This probably does not seem surprising, but I feel that there is more to the story than just a simple act of gratitude, and I would like to explore the psychology behind it.
An article by Jeremy Dean for PsychCentral discusses why giving thanks is not just a nice thing to do for others, but it is also beneficial to the self. Studies show that giving thanks can “improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives”. Personally I feel that this is very true, for I have often experienced what giving and receiving appreciation can do for the heart and mind. When I show gratitude to a friend or loved one, such as buying them flowers or simply telling them how much I love them, I love seeing the biggest smile on their face. Making others happy and making others smile is what makes me smile. It’s like a contagious disease, but a truly wonderful one that I don’t mind being spread all over.
Besides the warm fuzzy feelings it gives us, expressing gratitude can also be beneficial in that people will like you more and be more willing to help you if they believe you appreciate their help. Based on studies published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dean attributes this to the way receiving thanks boosts self-esteem. In one study, those who received a thank you email after providing feedback were more willing to provide further assistance to that person. What is even more intriguing is that those who received the email were more likely to help someone else out, not just the person who gave them thanks. I find this to be a crucial point that extends even beyond this topic for it is a way we can perpetuate peace and generosity throughout the world. It is clear that gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion that can significantly affect your attitude, which in turn affects others and their attitudes.
It’s kind of like that story: A man goes to work and his boss chews him out, so he goes home and takes out his frustrations on his wife, who yells at her son, who beats the dog. It might be a little extreme, but I don’t think anyone can deny that they have never once taken their anger out on someone who didn’t deserve it when they’ve been having a bad day. It happens. This is why I’m encouraging people to give thanks and practice positivity, because it spreads. If you thank someone and offer kindness, not only will they be more likely to offer it back, but will pay it forward to others. This helps everybody, not just you or one person, but everyone you both come into contact with.
Think about it, and practice giving thanks every day. Tell a coworker how much you appreciate all of the hard work they’ve been doing. Give out hugs (it releases oxytocin!). Say “thank you” to strangers who hold the door open for you. It’s not just having manners, it’s boosting self-esteem and propagating positivity to create a better future for you and for future generations. In a time where we are constantly at war while destroying each other and our earth, it is crucial that we support each other and come together, rather than pushing ourselves even further apart.
Thank you so much for reading, and thank you to Kevin Nakao and Travis Pearl for this learning opportunity and for always encouraging my creative freedom. Cheers!