Expressing gratitude may improve your psychological and physical well-being and contribute to long-term success in relationships, a new study suggests.
Researchers from University of Montana in the US explored the connection between gratitude expression and psychological and physical well-being.
"Gratitude consistently associates with many positive social, psychological and health states, such as an increased likelihood of helping others, optimism, exercise, and reduced reports of physical symptoms," said Stephen M Yoshimura from University of Montana.
However, the researchers argue that not enough research has been done on the communication of gratitude and its effect on well-being, and they propose further avenues for analysis of gratitude messages and their impact.
Expressions of gratitude are often a response to others' acts of generosity - if you receive a gift from someone, or an act of kindness, you reciprocate by showing gratitude, sometimes publicly, to highlight the giver's altruistic act.
Gratitude is a different emotion from happiness because it so often stems from the actions of another individual.
"To experience it, one must receive a message, and interpret the message," the researchers said.
Numerous studies show that expressing and experiencing gratitude increases life satisfaction, vitality, hope and optimism.
Moreover, it contributes to decreased levels of depression, anxiety, envy, and job-related stress and burnout.
Perhaps most intriguing is that people who experience and express gratitude have reported fewer symptoms of physical illness, more exercise and better quality of sleep.
While the immediate effects of gratitude expression are clear, the researchers argue that it also contributes to long-term success in relationships and personal well-being - "up to six months after a deliberate expression to one's relationship's partner."
The research was published in the journal Review of Communication.
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