The Hard Facts: How To Be Thankful

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Grateful people aren’t just kinder people … They are also less aggressive. Giving thanks lowers daily aggression, hurt feelings and overall sensitivity. Gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others and stimulates pro-social behavior” (“Gratitude as an Antidote to Aggression” ; University of Kentucky News, 10/20/2011)

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Mostly due to the mashed potatoes, Law and Order: SVU marathons and post-meal tryptophan-induced nap.

Not that I’m not grateful. Of course I am. I’m quite aware of how lucky I am to have a great family, a career I love, and new friends. This year, especially, has been a pretty good one (to be capped off shortly with a highlight!) and I am most definitely thankful. But I’m not someone who spends five minutes a day meditating on all the people who were kind to me in the last 24 hours. I don’t keep a gratitude journal. While I make a point to say the words “thank you” as much and as emphatically I can, I’m a pretty horrific thank you note writer.

But, no surprise, it seems the fastest way to be a new friend magnet (and overall happy, healthy person) is to be grateful. According to The New York Times, “cultivating an ‘attitude of gratitude’ has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.”

If you’re like me and sometimes (often?) trade in gratitude for frustration that the cable is out or anxiety about an upcoming deadline or annoyance at a coworker who droned on in the staff meeting, the New York Times offers a few interesting and helpful tips on incorporating the Thanksgiving spirit into your everyday life. This one, of course, especially struck me:

Share the feeling. Why does gratitude do so much good? ‘More than other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship,’ Dr. McCullough says. ‘It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person. Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.’”

(I also like the tip about “gratitude lite.” That seems my speed.)

So, you know, it’s Thanksgiving. Be grateful. It can only help you on the road to friendship.

I’ll kick it off early: Readers, I am grateful for you. Seriously. Thank you for supporting my blog, my book and my quest for new friends. I couldn’t do it without you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

MWF Seeking BFF, the book, is out in less than one month! December 20 to be exact. Maybe you want to:
Pre-order the book
Read an excerpt
Check out the latest press and praise
See what people are saying on Amazon and Goodreads

Did I mention… THANK YOU!

4 Comments

Filed under The Search

4 responses to “The Hard Facts: How To Be Thankful

  1. I don’t know if I’ve ever said thank you! Thank you for writing this blog and being hilarious at all the appropriate times and when I most need a laugh.
    And I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but I personally think that research wednesdays are my favorite…when I forget that it’s wednesday and I see that it’s wednesday on your blog because I am reading, my day instantly gets a little bit better – so thank you!
    Have a great Thanksgiving, Rachel!

    • Aw, thank YOU Elise. That is so kind. To hear that I make you laugh sometimes is the best news I could get. Also, I’m glad you love Research Wednesdays! Some people tell me it’s their least favorite, but I like the little dose of science in my week. Have a great holiday!

  2. Christina

    And thanks to you Rachel for a such a fun blog!! Enjoy those mashed potatoes (those are my favorite thing too!). Happy Thanksgiving!!! Gobble!! Gobble!! :-)

  3. Cheryl

    So funny that this should be your topic! My book club just finished reading “365 Thank yous” by John Kralik, and we talked about the difference that saying “thank you” makes in us and in how we see the world. :) Thank you for sharing your friendship journey!!

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