Giving Thanks is Good for You!


Choosing to feel grateful can make a positive difference in your life, according to a growing body of research. This is a particularly significant finding because people often view saying thanks as a passive, passing gesture, rather than an active stance and engagement with life.

The work is being extended in a relatively novel way by linking gratitude to biomarkers, in the research of Naomi Eisenberger at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a sub-grantee through the “Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude” project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, and is testing to see whether gratitude has an effect on proteins in the body linked to inflammation and many health conditions.

Sara Algoe, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and another sub-grantee, has been looking at the impact of gratitude in another part of life—that of romantic relations. “Expressing gratitude well is a potent part of relationship satisfaction,” Algoe said in a recent article. “Sometimes we feel grateful, but we don’t say it. This research suggests it’s important to say it.”

David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, is another researcher working in this area. He has determined that when people are helped, they display more cooperative behavior in the second stage of his experiments. This collection of research suggests that feeling grateful helps us to feel connected to others—an understanding that could have potentially positive effects for all.