During the time of year when gifts are being exchanged everywhere one looks, parties are being held, and charity participation is at its highest, the words “thank you” pop up everywhere. As many couples counselors in Highlands Ranch know, gratitude can go much further than the moment, creating lasting benefits for both parties. If you want to deepen your bond with others and boost your own mood this holiday season, give gratitude a try!
It seems like common sense, but it is worth repeating: we boost the moods of others when we thank them, and we give positive feedback that makes this sort of behavior more likely in the future. Think about the last time someone was truly grateful to you—and expressed it. You may have felt a little embarrassed if you struggle with confidence, but in general, sentiments of appreciation make people feel appreciated. Their hard work in choosing something that is a perfect fit for you shows, so let them know! Gratitude tip: thank the effort, not the product. “Thanks for the brand new car—I love it!” sends a message that you love the car. “Thank you for custom-ordering my favorite color, having my favorite radio stations pre-set, and knowing me so well you got the perfect features!” sends a message that you love the gift-giver and all their hard work!
Psychology secret: Gratitude does more for the “thanker” than the receiver. When you thank someone or otherwise express gratitude, it cues your brain to focus on the positive. People who express gratitude to others are less likely to report feeling depressed, more likely to report feeling engaged and connected, and have deeper relationships. Gratitude tip: Depth matters. A quick “thanks,” is nice, but some studies have shown that writing approximately a one-page letter to thank someone has even more benefits—for the person doing the thanking. Dust off that old stationary or fire up your email and try writing a long-form thank-you letter to someone you love today!
For More Than Gifts
If you think carefully, you have much to be grateful for, even if the holidays are stressful . If you are reading this post, you are literate—or you have the resources for a screen reader. We often take these things for granted, but when couples seek therapy in Highlands Ranch, we often focus on how these things taken for granted are really things to be grateful for. This holiday season, don’t just give thanks for gifts—thank your partner for being a wonderful mother or father, thank your children for being themselves, thank yourself for making it through another year.
Gratitude can be a wonderful tool to improve your daily mood and relationships with others. However, if these tools aren’t working, consider calling Dr. Steve Lazarus to work through challenges in couples therapy.