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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

The Little Gesture That'll Make You Feel Happier Every Day

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Saying thanks nowadays feels somewhat robotic. You say it in passing when someone opens the door for you, or picks up a pen you dropped, or points out a piece of lettuce on your shirt. Because it’s become so overused and overdone, one could argue it’s starting to lose its significance.

And yet, it’s still one of the most powerful phrases out there, no matter what form it’s in—out loud, in writing, over email.

In fact, science says just saying it daily can make you more successful.

Let me explain. According to Shawn Achor, bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, when we focus first on increasing our happiness, we inherently increase our chances of educational, career, and financial success.

And how do we quickly and easily increase our happiness? Well, plenty of studies show that practicing gratitude makes you healthier and happier, which is why Achor suggests writing a thank you note every morning.

The reason this works isn’t just because of science—it’s because it’s an intentional way to express gratitude (opposed to that impulsive “thanks” you say to the person who held open the door for you). It forces you to stop and appreciate someone, something, or some moment, and thus makes you feel better about those things.

Before you argue that handwriting a clever, personalized note every morning seems redundant, annoying, and unrealistic, consider the easier alternatives. You can send your friend a text thanking them for your lovely chat over drinks the night before. Or, you can stick a Post-it to your co-worker’s monitor for lending you a hand on that big assignment. Or, you can download a gratitude app to remind yourself of all the wonderful things you’re thankful for.

And on other days, you can go the more traditional (and sometimes more career-boosting) route, like writing a letter to a key connection who gave you great job search advice, or emailing a former colleague and thanking them for being so great to work with.

Sure, we give thanks all the time. But when we set aside time to really be grateful for something, we not only end up happier and more successful, but create stronger and more meaningful relationships.