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The attitude of gratitude

Gratitude, according to PsycNET, a database of psychological research, has exploded as both a field of research and as a topic for media attention. Published articles on gratitude have been increasing exponentially for the past 20 years and research on gratitude, according to UC Davis psychology professor Robert A. Emmons, reveals that “it enhances one’s personal and relational well-being and is quite possibly beneficial for society as a whole.”

The very fact that gratitude research has become, according to Emmons, a “growing science” suggests the platitudes increasingly pronounced from pulpits and in Thanksgiving editorials like this one, are rooted in scientific fact.

Being grateful, it seems, really is good for you. And it may also be good for the bottom line. For many people, more accustomed to complaining than applauding, expressing gratitude may be too much like learning a foreign language to come easily to hand. The ratio of good news to bad news reported in most media is so heavily weighted to the negative side of the scale that choosing gratitude over grumbling may seem both Pollyannish and irresponsible.

But in the most pragmatic and bottom-line-driven environment imaginable – American corporate sales – gratitude has become an increasingly popular marketing tool, as cynical as that may sound.

Both Forbes and Fortune have reported on the trend of giving thanks as part of corporate planning and policy. Fortune reported on the experience of a Washington, D.C., area limousine service CEO who explained, “Instead of going after new business, we decided to go back to old clients and thank them, and develop relationships.”


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