Saying This One Word Will Boost Your Mood By 25 Percent

There's one catch: you have to mean it.

Thanks for reading this.

Ah, that feels so good to say. And there's a reason: It turns out that saying "thank you" (or simply "thanks")—or expressing gratitude by any other means—can provide an immediate, gratifying, and even sustained boost of happiness.

The research comes from Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of the forthcoming book, The Hope Circuit. Seligman and his team asked 411 participants to perform a variety of so-called "happiness interventions," or tasks believed to boost happiness levels. In one intervention, participants were asked to write thank-you letters to people from their past and then hand-deliver them. According to Seligman, the folks who completed this task continued to float on a happier altitude an entire month later.

It's just the latest evidence bolstering the power of the word "thanks." Scientists Robert Emmons, from the University of California, Davis, and Michael McCullough, from the University of Wharton, also found that people who say "thank you" and express gratitude get a pervasive and long-lasting mood boost. As an added bonus, they say that people who say "thanks" were shown to begin exercising an additional hour-and-a-half each week and experienced fewer "symptoms of physical illness." (So, yes, saying "thank you" can save you a trip to the doctor and help you lose weight.)

In a follow-up book to that study, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Emmons found that "regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent." To further maximize your mood, suggests Emmons, you should keep a "gratitude journal"—wherein you keep track of every time you think or feel or utter gracious thoughts—for three weeks, which can give you a much sunnier outlook on life.

So next time you're at a restaurant and the waiter does something extra nice—or someone on your team at work puts in 110 percent on a project—don't forget to say, "thanks." Science says you'll be way happier for it.

You're welcome.

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Ari Notis
Ari is an editor specializing in news and lifestyle. Read more
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