Sara Algoe | Greater Good magazine
In my research, I’ve invited couples in romantic relationships to come into the laboratory and thank their partner for something—with video cameras rolling. They express gratitude for a wide variety of things, big and small: for keeping him company in the hospital during a week-long stay, for making sure to prioritize visits to the in-laws, for driving to the grocery store with money when he forgot his wallet, for making (her favorite) banana pudding from scratch, or simply for grabbing him an extra treat at a workplace function. They are heartwarming conversations to witness.
Lots of studies tout the personal benefits that can come from feeling and expressing gratitude in your relationships. People who express gratitude develop more positive evaluations of their relationships and even elicit more help and kindness from others. People who write letters of gratitude show improved mood and—especially if they feel low when they start—experience reduced symptoms of depression. What’s more, people who receive expressions of gratitude get a benefit, too.