Bless Someone—Improve Their Health—With Expressions of Thanks

The scientific literature clearly supports that having a grateful mindset and expressing gratitude can have a powerful affect on our physical and mental health, improving resilience, and enhancing outlook. Interestingly, the neuroscience literature reveals that positive outcomes are even greater in the person receiving gratitude. This essentially means that the person to whom we say thank you for their actions etc., derives powerful health benefits from our expression. Considering this, we all have endless opportunity to improve the health and well-being of those in our sphere of influence by simply extending words of thanks for their efforts, kindness, love—the truth is, the list of items for which we can convey thanks to the people around us is boundless.

Expressing gratitude to someone is considered a pro social behavior; pro social behavior is defined as a voluntary action that is intended to benefit another.  In children, teaching pro social behaviors positively impacts their relationship skills, resilience, academic success, health and more. The literature around social connections definitively present that human health is enhanced and somewhat dependent on connections with others; conversely, living in isolation, disconnected and lonely can result in years of life lost. As a leader of self and others, promoting the pro social behavior of gratitude, is a cost-free, health enhancing opportunity we can’t miss.

More interesting research on gratitude has demonstrated that watching or perceiving that someone is receiving help, powerfully impacts the brain circuitry and neuromodulators much like receiving gratitude. This begs the question, is our well-being also enhanced by having the perception, or the faith, that help will come. One of the nine most prevalent attributes of centenarians (people who live to 100 years or more) uncovered through the Blue Zones research, is belonging to a faith-based community.

As we travel through our days, may we pause and notice the people around us for whom we are grateful. Let’s take it a step further and in real time, informed by our awareness of their value and contributions to our lives, acknowledge them through our words, actions and deeds to insure we communicate our appreciation,  while seizing the opportunity to also enhance their health.