Don't Forget to Say Thank You

By Annabelle Parr

Most people are aware that it is good to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Reminding ourselves of the things that we have to be grateful for helps us to appreciate life more fully. Gratitude can help us to find light in the dark or joy in the midst of frustration or boredom. But it’s one thing to simply feel grateful or think grateful thoughts, and quite another to act in a way that expresses gratitude. 

It turns out that gratitude is not just an attitude; it’s also an action. 

In 2013, Upworthy and Soul Pancake came together to create a video all about the profound effect that gratitude can have on our happiness. Based on a scientific study proving that gratitude increases happiness, they ran a little experiment to see if they could find the same results. They had participants write a letter thanking the person that they felt had the greatest impact on their life. Then, they made the participants call the person they had chosen and read the letter to them.

Watching and hearing the joy that exudes out of both the participants and the recipients is moving to watch. If you have ever expressed a deep sense of gratitude to someone that you love, you know how wonderful it feels.


The results of this small experiment also point to an important piece of the gratitude puzzle. The participants who simply wrote a letter thanking someone showed a 2-4% increase in happiness. But the participants who also had to read their letter to the person they chose to thank showed a 4-19% increase in happiness. And the people who showed the biggest increases were the people that started out feeling the worst.

So it turns out, it’s not just being grateful that matters. In order to truly experience the full power of gratitude, we have to actually express it. So don’t simply think about what you are grateful for. Share it. Tell the people you love how much you appreciate them and why. Reach out to an old mentor or friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Tell them how much they impacted your life. These moments allow us to experience connection more deeply than usual. It is a source of not only joy but also strength and hope. Viewing gratitude as not only an attitude, but also an action can have a profound impact on all parties involved.

So, who do you need to thank today?

Annabelle Parr is a graduate at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She was a Psychology major with a passion for writing and learning about people. Connect with Annabelle via email at Find her personal blog at