Who do you need to thank? (DW#528)

Continuing with our series on reflecting on the past year, today let us bring to mind WHO we were grateful for this past year. 

Before we begin, a quick question: have you heard of the "gratitude gap"? Let me explain what it is. 

The John Templeton Foundation did an extensive survey on gratitude in America. They found that when asked what they were grateful for, a staggering majority of people put family (90%) and friends (87%) at the top of their lists. 

But here is the sad part: less than half of women (and even less of men) expressed this sense of gratitude or appreciation to their family or friends. So even though many people are feeling gratitude in their hearts for people, they appear to be reticent to express this gratitude. 

In fact, the closer the relationship, the less likely people are to show their appreciation for their loved ones. So family and spouses appear to get the least verbal appreciation from us even though at some level we know that they matter most. 

The study called this the gratitude gap: it is the gap between a feeling of gratitude and an expression of it. 

Here is why the gratitude gap is especially troublesome:

1)   Gratitude for people rather than things or experiences has the greatest impact on our own wellbeing.

2)   People report significantly stronger positive impact on their day when they actually say "thank you" to people (as opposed to simply feeling it, posting it on social media or even Whatsapp messages). People who were brave enough to say thank you reported that their experience of gratitude "made their whole day glorious." So it seems that even though it is most impactful to express gratitude aloud—to other humans—people seem to keep it to themselves. (I do have some theories about why this is, but we shall keep those for another day)

3)   The expression of appreciation and gratitude, as we have previously discussed, is one of the quickest ways to turn around troubled relationships and strengthen stable ones.

So here is the take away from this: research indicates that although family members and loved ones are typically the first to come to mind when we begin to reflect on and journal our gratitude, we are least likely to express this to them - even though telling them would make us happier (and it would improve their day as well).

So as we complete the reflection process for last year, please let us take a moment and make a note of those who positively impacted our lives in 2018. AND then let us find a way to tell them!

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