In a brief but interesting article in Fast Company a couple months ago, the authors tout the importance of giving employees the opportunity to receive positive feedback from the people who ultimately wind up using and benefiting from their work. They argue that it benefits not only the employee, but the customer who wants to express gratitude. I found the following excerpt particularly interesting:
In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, describes a dozen scientifically proven strategies to make yourself happier. The first? Expressing gratitude.
In one study, researchers asked a group of people to make a list, once a week for 10 weeks, of five things they were thankful for. Other groups in the study wrote different kinds of weekly lists, such as “five major events” or “five hassles.” The “thankful” group felt more happiness, excitement, and joy than the other groups. They even reported better physical health — fewer headaches and coughs.
Another study found that making a “gratitude visit” — writing and delivering a letter to someone who was kind to you but whom you had never thanked, such as the friend who suggested it was time to ditch the trucker hat — caused people’s happiness to spike for a full month afterward.
Here is yet another instance of a biblical principle that “works” in real life. Should we cultivate gratitude, then, because we’ll feel better and thus benefit? Of course not. That would be something other than real gratitude, which is focused not on self but on another. Real gratitude certainly hangs out with its buddy humility in recognizing that one is not self-sufficient. But it’s just interesting to find “proof” that it also engenders joy all around.