How Gratitude Strengthens Relationships

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and November being National Gratitude Month, I couldn’t help but share a concept that we all need a continuous reminder of- being thankful and sharing it with others. 

On the first day of my job at a Digital Marketing Agency, I made a commitment to project appreciation and I wrote myself a sticky note that read, “When you start each day with a grateful heart, light illuminates from within.” Cheesy, I know. But I have carried that damn sticky with me through career moves and I continue to be inspired by it.

Adopting this mindset has shown me that gratitude doesn’t solely result in happy feelings for ourselves, but also cultivates and nourishes the lives of those around us. According to psychologist Sara Algoe, gratitude serves to strengthen our relationships in our personal and work lives. Her research finds a few key things to note.

  • Gratitude helps keep relationships strong. When it comes to maintaining relationships, people who feel appreciative of their close ones are more receptive to their needs. It also turns out that those same people prove to be more committed to their relationships, and are more likely to remain in long-term relationships.
  • Gratitude jumpstarts a cycle of generosity. For instance, one partner’s gratitude can prompt both partners to think and act in ways to help them signal gratitude to each other and look for the best in one another. In a dynamic of often using humor to show love, this cycle is fueled by transparency and compassion.

This backs up something that we already know to be true- being vocally thankful helps us to identify people who are responsive to our needs and helps to bring us closer to them.

Speak up

In this case, it is not the thought that counts- it’s the expression of that thought that leads to impact. It seems so easy to spurt out negative emotions but yet we struggle with being open about the things that make us grateful throughout the day. I feel that so many of us are worried about appearing weak, which holds us back from our true potential, leaving our relationships shallow.

Sticky


I slowly watched how my sticky note mantra revealed itself to be true as I approached every relationship in a new, humbled way. I started asking myself what I could learn from every single person around me and made a rule that whenever I had something nice to say about someone, I would say it- because why not? 

As I saw the way gratitude strengthened my relationships, I realized that sometimes being the open book in a room is worth feeling connected to those around me. I feel that in a country that operates on the fixation on the lack in our lives, it is so important to share it when we do feel grateful.

Call me naïve, but being thankful and expressing it to those around me has completely re-shaped my relationships. It has helped to take the guard down and come from an authentic place with my family and friends, resulting in them feeling like I am someone they can be open with, and in turn, presenting even more opportunity for connectedness- the cycle of generosity at its finest.

Love never fails

Sometimes the impact of our words for another person is worth a sliver of embarrassment in a moment. Whether the reciprocation of your words is taken seriously in the moment or not, the all-encompassing a fact of speaking life into somebody is always worth it, even if we don’t see the results right away.

Gratitude is the backbone of our relationships. What often happens in long-term relationships is that we develop a set of routines and expectations, and let the fact that we need words of affirmation to dwindle away like a fire pit. Relationships are living and breathing entities that need to be fed and nourished if they are to remain robust, and gratitude is a potent nutrient.

Gratefulness, like so many thought patterns, is a chain reaction. It’s something that I need to be reminded of every day, and something that I will never regret being loud and proud of. 

Thank you for being here,
Madison Ford 

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