Gratitude not only makes us feel a little happier, but it impacts our health and brain. Pausing to experience thankfulness throughout the day can minimize symptoms that worsen diseases, make us more community-minded and help boost academic performance. Blood analysis of cardiac patients even revealed that gratitude was associated with lower inflammation.
I love listening to Shane Parrish’s The Knowledge Project podcast. This week, the guest was Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology and the Head of Silliman College at Yale University. She teaches Psychology and the Good Life, one of the most popular courses at Yale.
Laurie shared one way to express gratitude that can immediately give you an improved wellbeing effect that lasts for over a month…
“We’re happier when we do nice things for others. We’re happier when we are focused on our healthier habits, things like improving our sleep and getting more exercise, we can really see the effects of this stuff, and often quite profound effects.
One of my favorite most profound effects is the effect of taking a little time for gratitude, the simple act of counting your blessings. There’s evidence that in as little as two weeks, the simple act of writing three to five things you’re grateful for down on a piece of paper can improve your well-being, and significantly improve your wellbeing.
There’s also evidence that expressing gratitude to other people, like writing a detailed thank you note to someone that you’ve always wanted to thank but never got a chance to, the act of doing that, at least in Marty Seligman and others’ data, can improve your wellbeing not just significantly immediately but can give you an improved wellbeing effect that lasts for over a month, right, which is crazy.
If I was like, ‘There’s this pill that you can take that will improve your wellbeing significantly for over a month,’ you take one pill, and months later you’re feeling good, you’d be like, ‘Man, I’m going to do that.’ The simple act of writing a thank you letter can do that.”