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Living Well: Who Needs a “Thank You?”

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Thanksgiving is almost upon us. In a few days, many families will gather around tables sharing their response to the question, “What are you grateful for?”

Today let’s flip that question a bit, and instead ask ourselves, “Who are you grateful for?”

Sometimes the best way to show care for another person is with gratitude. A thank you note, phone call, text, or just a kind word are all easy ways to show your appreciation for someone. Expressing this kind of gratitude can benefit the recipient – and yourself – in ways that you might not expect.

Sara Algoe, a gratitude researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that one particularly important element of gratitude is its other-focused nature. “When a grateful person actually takes the time to step outside of themselves and call attention to what was great about the other person’s actions—that’s what distinguishes gratitude from other kinds of positive emotional expressions,” she says.

Receiving gratitude from someone else is almost always a mood booster, of course. But when someone receives an unexpected “thank you,” they suddenly perceive the giver in a new light as someone who takes time to notice and recognize good qualities in others; as a good person, and potentially a good friend. And just like that, you’ve both experienced renewed optimism and a new sense of connection.

Think about the many people you encounter in a typical day or week, as you go about everyday life. Try to identify someone who is underappreciated – someone whose efforts might be going overlooked – and extend them a simple thank you.

It could make a huge difference in their day (and yours)!

Here’s to Living Well!

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