By Brad Bell
Gratitude is a vital aspect of social interaction. It may reflect a cultural norm. We may become socialized to express our gratitude to others. A simple “thank you” has become an automatic part of our everyday communication with others. Can writing about the things you are grateful for foster a sense of connectedness with people? The answer may be yes. In their third study, Emmons and McCullough (2003) had people complete forms for 21 days. The participants in their third study had a neuromuscular disease. In this study, they found that people who were asked to write own things they were thankful or grateful for felt more connected with others than people who were not asked to write down these things.(1) Because we are often grateful or thankful for the things that others have done, thoughts of gratitude could change our views of how close we feel to others.
These findings have important practical implications. Taking several minutes each day to write about the things you are grateful for may reduce loneliness and make you feel more connected with people.
1. See their article for other findings.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.