Valentines Day presents a heartwarming opportunity to show gratitude towards those we love. If you have a spouse or partner it’s a day of flowers, food, and appreciation. Activities are planned, “I love you” is said a thousand times, and chocolates are purchased. But even without a romantic counterpart, the day can be a perfect means of expressing gratitude for anybody that you love.
In elementary school, students bring a little bag of cards and candy for the whole class. No matter how basic the note on the card or how terrible the candy, there is something heartwarming about the act. That’s because gratitude, in almost any form, is a powerful wellness tool and an important part of a happy life.
If a 7 year old can experience joy from handing out pieces of paper and sugar to classmates, what’s stopping the rest of us from tapping into this wholesome side of human nature? In 2003, a study by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough revealed some expected but nonetheless intriguing findings. Throughout three studies, the researchers explored the potential emotional and interpersonal effects of gratitude, ultimately settling on the conclusion that counting your blessings is far more effective at increasing happiness than counting your burdens: “Results from this study showed that participants in the gratitude group felt better about their life on the whole, more optimistic about the upcoming week, and reported fewer physical complaints than participants in the other groups.”
People who you love are part of these blessings. Counting them, and showing them that they are being counted, is one thing you can do this Valentines day even if you don’t have a partner to share it with. Send a card to your mom and give your friend a small box of chocolates. Then, watch their face light up as they receive something so genuine out of the blue.
Happy Valentines Day!