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Why You Should Write More Thank You Notes

Sep 28, 2020

Research has shown time and time again that being grateful is good for your health, mood and general well-being. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things you can do to increase your mental health. But if you can’t remember the last time you sent a real thank-you note, a recent study may explain why.

The research, published recently in Psychological Science, says people chronically underestimate the power of expressing gratitude and overestimate how awkward it will be, which may keep them from engaging in the simple but impactful practice.

“Saying thanks can improve somebody’s own happiness, and it can improve the well-being of another person as well — even more than we anticipate, in fact,” says study co-author Amit Kumar, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. “If both parties are benefitting from this, I think that’s the type of action we should be pursuing more often in our everyday lives.”

Kumar’s research involved a series of experiments. Each one differed slightly, but the general concept remained the same: People were asked to send a letter to someone in their life, expressing gratitude. Before sending the letters, the writers were asked about how they expected the recipient to react. Then, the researchers polled the recipients about their actual reactions.

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