What are the psychological aspects of this holiday? In a world of social media, smartphones, and deadlines, it’s no secret that many of us don’t take enough time to count our blessings and give thanks. However, psychological research indicates that cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, less anxiety and depression, higher satisfaction with life, and kinder behavior toward others.
A new study, published in The New York Times, even indicates that feeling grateful actually makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked.
It’s important to note the difference between gratitude and indebtedness. People may feel obliged to return a favor, but that’s not gratitude, at least not from a psychological standpoint. Indebtedness doesn’t yield the same benefits as gratitude (which inclines people to be nice to anyone, not just someone who helped you them). For example –
In an experiment at Northeastern University, researchers would intentionally sabotage a participant’s computer and then arranged for another student to help out and fix it for them. Afterward, the students who had been helped by others were likelier to volunteer to help someone else (even a complete stranger) with an unrelated task.
o Helps people become less aggressive by enhancing their empathy;
o Increases the likelihood that we will help others; and
o Is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their guess of how much other people value them.
How do we apply these benefits to the business world? Consider your relationships with clients, customers, colleages, etc. What do you value about them? What do you think they value most about you?
This Thanksgiving, we’re dishing out a heaping portion of gratitude for our great clients, a fantastic new office space, and a new addition to our staff for 2012. Happy Holidays!