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Cherie Burbach

The Not-So-Surprising Power of Gratitude

By April 9, 2014

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Note: I originally published this blog post last April, but it remains one of the most popular on the site. I think that's because we never get tired of hearing about gratitude. It's a key element to our happiness, and helps make our relationships that much better. Don't you think?


I was fascinated by a recent story from the Harvard Gazette that talked about the power of gratitude. In speaking with Francesca Gino from the Harvard Business School about her book, Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan, they highlighted interesting research that confirmed that positivity can greatly influence the choices we make. Gino says of things like gratitude, "a lot of these forces happen even though we are unaware of them. People might just not realize how powerful expressions of gratitude are."

I agree. I think we can do so much just by being thoughtful, and it benefits others as well as ourselves. Gino did an interesting study that looked at gratitude and how it affected self-worth. She had students critique a cover letter, with half of them receiving a perfunctory response ("I received your feedback on my cover letter") and half receiving gratitude ("I received your feedback on my cover letter. Thank you so much! I am really grateful.")

Not surprisingly, the group that received gratitude had a higher sense of self-worth (55 percent of them versus 25 percent for the non-gratitude group). What's more, the ones that had received gratitude were more likely to help out another student when asked for help.

She says, "Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too."

I think this is really amazing, and confirms the need for us show kindness and gratitude to friends and strangers alike. It's good for us and for our relationships. It builds self-worth, which (in terms of friendship) helps us make better relationship choices.

Related: Sharing the Love: My Friend Was So Kind to Me | Do You Have a Friendship Gratitude Blog?

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