by Francesca Gino
Although I didn’t move to the United States until I was an adult, every year I look forward to one of the most American of holidays: Thanksgiving. Turkey, pumpkin pie, long hours of cooking and relaxing with family and friends make the day a particularly fun one. I also look forward to Thanksgiving for another important reason: it is a day that reminds us of the importance of expressing gratitude.
Even though many of us have numerous occasions to feel grateful in both our personal and professional lives, we often miss out on opportunities to express gratitude, especially at work. A recent survey of 2,000 Americans released earlier this year by the John Templeton Foundation found that people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anyplace else. We are not even thankful for our jobs, which tend to rank dead last when asked to list the things we’re grateful for in our lives.
Failing to express gratitude when we can is a missed opportunity for at least two reasons. First, feeling grateful has several beneficial effects on us: gratitude enables us to savor positive experiences, cope with stressful circumstances and be resilient in the face of challenges, and strengthen our social relationships. Psychological research [PDF] has shown that writing letters of gratitude once a week over a six-week period leads to greater life satisfaction as compared to simply recording ordinary life events.