Many people keep gratitude to themselves. They feel it but don’t express it. Like you, they assume the other person already knows how much they are appreciated or they worry about finding the right words to say what they want to say. I have a patient who was so concerned about writing the perfect thank you note that she often ended up not writing one at all.
Putting pen to paper or sending a thank you email may seem unnecessary or feel uncomfortable but research tells a different story. According to a recent study, we systematically underestimate the positive impact of expressing gratitude and overestimate how awkward an expression of gratitude might make someone else feel. Misunderstanding the consequences of saying thanks keeps us from engaging in a simple action that would make us and someone else a little happier. The conclusion of the study is crystal clear: every time we don’t express gratitude we are missing an opportunity to give others and ourselves a boost.
Expressing and experiencing gratitude in everyday life is one of the most reliable ways to improve your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of someone else.
Gertrude Stein famously said, “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” She was right. Say it. Write it. Express it somehow. Whatever you do, please don’t keep it to yourself.
This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Marie Claire Magazine.